Friday, December 14, 2012

For the time has come . . .

 In every war there are strategic opportunities that advance the day of victory.  Such an opportunity is upon us in America at this time.  We are reminded that suffering is a part of life.  Our culture is going through a season of suffering, but for Christians this should be no surprise.  It is an opportunity to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.  But . . . is the church, as a whole, a community of people of hope?  I would suggest the answer is no.

God is concerned about the condition of his church.  As a matter of fact I am persuaded that we are living in the time that is spoken about in 1Peter 4:17 where we read, 

"For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin
with God’s household (the church).
And if judgment begins with us,
what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?"

One year ago ReFocused Ministry was founded with the intent to help struggling pastors and churches.  In the past year we have incorporated, received certification, researched and began to work with pastors and churches.  Most churches are not in a position to pay for our ministry, even though they are in definite need of help.  Over the past year I have been involved in "tent making" employment to supplement our income while we positioned the ministry to assist churches. 

I am now focusing on recruiting a team to join me in this effort to leverage the opportunity that is upon us.  I am convinced that the greatest opportunity for the advancement of the gospel in America is the transformation of the existing church.  I realize there are many fronts in the spiritual warfare being waged for the souls of men and women, but God has called me to this front.

I believe that there is an army of people God is calling to join me on this front.  I am recruiting partners who are burdened about the condition of the existing church in America and long to see it rise up and be the light of hope and reconciliation God has designed it to be.  

I want you to pray about whether God would have you serve on this front with me.  Here is what is involved in being part of this elite team.  I am looking for people:

1.  who have a God-given passion for the transformation of the existing church.
2.  who are committed to pray for our ministry and for existing churches.
3.  who will partner with financial support to enable us to take this ministry to the church.
4.  who will help us in reaching pastors and churches by making referrals.

This ministry isn't for everyone, but it may be for you.  Contact me at: and/or go to: to learn more about this opportunity.   All donations and gifts are tax deductible.  

2013 will be a year of awakening for many churches and a year of harvest for many communities.  Will you be a part of making this happen?  Send this to friends that you think would be a good part of this elite team and who would love to see a ministry to existing churches.  Let's do this!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Voting as a Christian

I am voting early this year. I will be out of town on election day. I am thankful to be living in a nation that allows elections. I don't care for the cut-throat commercials and all the lying and maneuvering, but I do take the responsibility seriously. 

I was challenged by another post that I read that encouraged Christians to check their biblical compass before voting.  Here is how my compass directs me:

I will vote for the most pro-life candidate, because God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17; 24:11,12). 

I will vote for the most pro-Israel candidate, because God blesses those who bless Israel and curses those who don't (Genesis 12:3).

I will vote for the most pro-debt reduction candidate, because the borrower is servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).

I will vote for the most pro-work candidate because God says if a man does not work, let him not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

I will vote for the most pro-marriage candidate, because God is for marriage as defined in Genesis 2:24 .

I will vote for the candidate who most closely believes government's purpose is to reward the good & punish the evil (Romans 13).

I will vote based as closely as I can on God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16), knowing that whoever gets elected, God is the one who puts all men in authority (Daniel 2:21). 

Christians need to clear their head of all the junk, promises and political intimidation and vote like a Christian who ultimately trusts the King of kings, Lord of lords and President of presidents.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Living Life on the Edge

Jesus lived life on the edge.  By this I mean that he was sold out to his purpose to such a degree that he stayed steadfast in struggles, was unmovable when threatened and remained consistent and compassionate when people turned on him.   He allowed us see some of the struggles of life on the edge when he reveals his prayer as he faced his ultimate battle with the darkness of sin and death.

I have always been of the opinion that life on the edge is a great life. My daughter once said, "Hey, if you're not living on the edge, you're takin' up way too much room."  Gee, I wonder where she learned that concept.  I thought we should look at the benefits of life on the edge and the risks.

The benefits include:
1.    A much better view. You can stand back away from the edge and have people tell you what they see or you can go up to the edge and see for yourself.
2.    A breath-taking atmosphere. I've been to Niagara Falls very often and hear most of the "oooooo...'s" and "ahhhhhh's!" from edge of the canyon surrounding the falls. Most of the noise away from the edge is just about what shop or restaurant people want to go to next.
3.    A growth in confidence and peace. It seems that the longer you stay on the edge the less it bothers you.
4.    Something to tell others about. Living on the edge fills you with stories to tell those who want to know about the edge but haven't had opportunity or desire to go to the edge.
The risks:
1.    You cannot waffle while on the edge. Waffling while on the edge subjects you to a tremendous fall. Walk with Jesus.
2.    You cannot forget about where you are and become careless. Carelessness while on the edge subjects you to a tremendous fall. Spend time in the Bible.
3.    You will bother people while you are living on the edge. People who are afraid will continually urge you to move away from the edge or write you off completely as a foolish person.  Be gracious to people.

I wonder what the others in the boat thought when Peter stepped out on the edge and walked on water with Jesus.  Jonah went out on the edge when he submitted himself to being thrown overboard because he had disobeyed God and his problem was causing a problem for everyone on the boat.  Note the powerful results of his willingness to trust God and live on the edge.  Paul lived on edge and summed it up when he said:

"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.  Philippians 3:8-16

The edge isn't as dangerous as rumor would have it.  It is sometimes uncomfortable, but always inspiring.  It is sometimes unpopular, but always rewarding.  It is sometimes challenging, but always worth the risk.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Start Changing

God is not a “stop” God.  He is a “change” God.  Ephesians 4 reminds us that we don’t change by stopping, but rather by putting on or starting something different.  For instance it says a liar is still a liar even when he stops lying.  He is only changed when he starts telling the truth.  Likewise, a thief hasn't changed when he stops stealing.  He is changed when he starts giving.

We need to stop worrying and start worshiping.  I love the way God's people break into worship in the midst of the horrors of the Book of Revelation. It is because they see things differently.  Tough things happen to everyone, but taking time to consider what is happening in the context of God's faithfulness is what leads to worship.  The church should be seen as a people of worship, not a people of worry.

Some other stop and start things could be: Stop comparing and start sharing.  Stop saying negative things and start saying positive things.  Stop drinking soda and start drinking water.

Things don't change because we stop doing something.  Change comes when we start doing what we ought to be doing.  What kind of things do you need to stop and start?

By the way,  I am committed to stop watching pastors and churches struggle and to start helping them refocus on God's purposes and power in their lives.  If you want to join me in this effort check out this website and contact me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Visitors Not Welcome

You and I have all experienced the “get ready for company” environment.  Most of our homes are already presentable and an unannounced drop-in wouldn’t be a tragedy, but when we know someone is coming we take extra steps to make sure everything is just right.

Why is it that we don’t have that same mentality when it comes to our weekend gatherings at church?  I have had the opportunity to be a visitor at many churches over the past year.  In most cases I felt like they didn’t know or care that I was coming.  There were the occasional “greeters” that shook my hand and gave me a program, but that was about it.

Many times my wife and I would squeeze down a long narrow hallway, navigating around people who were talking or waiting, then arrive in the auditorium where people sat silently facing an empty platform.  A few may be holding private conversations and others would turn to watch us attempt to get a feel for where we wanted to sit.  There we sat until that awkward moment of “turn and greet someone you don’t know” was used to move the worship team or choir off the platform. 

Romans 12:9-13 encourages us to practice hospitality.  Here are a few things God encourages us to consider.  Don’t pretend to love people . . . really love them.  This means take the time and effort to engage them.  We are told to enjoy honoring others.  We are told to not be lazy, but work hard and enthusiastically in being the Lord’s servant. 

Imagine that the Holy Spirit (God) is inviting . . . calling . . . moving people to hear from Him, to find an answer to a hurt, to renew their hope or to be with His people.  We are his servants and are in charge of this event He has ordained.  God is all about preparation.  He says He is preparing a place for us.  He told his disciples to go and prepare a place for the Passover.  He said the kingdom is like a banquet prepared for many invited guests.  What kind of preparation goes into getting a church ready to greet guests?

Many of the churches I have visited are cluttered and unclean.  They prepare nothing to assist visitors in finding the nursery, a class, a place to sit or people to interact with.  Insider language is used in announcements and even in the message.  The entire environment is not visitor friendly.  There is obviously no anticipation, excitement or preparation for visitors.

Think about the things you do when you know someone is coming to visit your home. 
     1.  You clean a little extra and are even concerned about smell. (Light a couple candles.)
     2.  You make sure there is room in the driveway for them to park and will even move your car down the street, if necessary.
     3.  You watch for them and go out to greet them in the driveway, if possible.
     4.  You make sure they are comfortable, even if it means that you give up your favorite chair or bed.
     5.  You focus on them and engage them in conversation.
     6.  You honor your guests and make them feel at home by telling them where the restroom is, if they need it and to help themselves to the refreshments you have set out for them to snack on.

Why don’t we practice this kind of hospitality in what we call God’s house?  Maybe we don’t anticipate or value visitors.  Maybe we are lazy.  Maybe we are hypocritical and only pretend to love other people.  Maybe we have lost sight of our mission and responsibility to rescue the perishing.

We are encouraged to always be eager to practice hospitality.  God’s people should be the most hospitable people on the planet.  After all, we are the benefactors of God’s great hospitality as He prepared a Sacrifice for us so that He could welcome us as His children.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Leadership and Equipping

Ephesians 4:11-12
"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ."

Some church leaders act as though they are God’s gift to the church for their own notoriety and glory.  I have heard pastors defensively say, “This is my vision and no one is taking it from me.”  These men are driven by passion and vision, but crippled by insecurity and a failure to understand that their greatest responsibility is to equip an army of people to fulfill the vision God has placed on their heart for reaching and transforming the world.

God has a vision for his church and imparts that vision to pastor/teachers so that they can lead and train (equip) God’s people (the saints) to do His work (seek and save the lost . . . Luke 19:10) and build up the Body of Christ.  No one owns God’s vision, we are only stewards of it.  That means no one can steal it.  Being a steward involves investment in those God sent you to equip.  It involves feeding them, shepherding them (leading) and encouraging them.

Five signs that you might be lopsided in your equipping and leading:

1.  The leadership team is limited to a few individuals who are to act as insulation between the lead pastor, staff and other leaders.

2.  There is no platform or tolerance for strategic ideas from other leaders that challenge the ideas of the lead pastor.

3.  Anger and frustration begin to permeate the messages from the platform.

4.  There is a high turnover of talented staff who become frustrated (lack of utilization) and burned out (lack of investment) in ministry.

5.  Stagnation of growth is blamed on others and their loss of vision, loyalty or lack of engagement (unequipped) rather than a failure of leadership.

God is building His church and has called pastors to shepherd and equip it.  It all rises and falls on leadership and leadership's greatest responsibility is to invest in others (equip).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pick a Number . . . Any Number

UNLEASH is a new book written by Perry Noble, Lead Pastor of NewSpring Church.  I don't often blog about a particular book, but this book will take you on a challenging journey that will rock your world and the way you view it.  The following insert is just a sample of the way Perry encourages the reader to re-evaluate the way he or she thinks.

"Choose a number in your head—any number you want. Go!

What number did you pick? Nearly every time I do this experiment with people, they tell me a number in the ball- park of one to one hundred.

But why?

Why would we pick a number between one and one hundred when we have the option of choosing any number in the world? Why would we not pick 1,284,383?

For many of us, it’s a simple and sad answer: we’ve been programmed to focus on the small and the manageable. We do the same thing with spiritual matters. We focus on what’s normal when God has promised He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20, niv).

We all want our lives to count, to matter—and the good news is that God wants that for each one of us as well. The beginning of unleashing the life God wants for us is understanding that there is so much more in store for us than what we are currently experiencing."  Perry Noble, UNLEASH

This book will challenge what you assume is biblical, like, "God won't give you more than you can handle."  As it's title suggests, we are all bound by thoughts and junk that hinder us from experiencing the free and abundant life God created us to experience. (John 10:10)

My recommendation . . . get UNLEASH . . . study it with some friends . . .  wrestle with its thoughts . . . live life unleashed and help unleash others.  God didn't set us free from prison so we could go through life dragging a ball and chain.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else

I've always appreciated the insights of Patrick Lencioni as he has gone beyond finance, strategy and MBA analysis of organizations. He has focused on the environmental issues that hinder productivity and negatively affect those who engage with the organization.  I am in 100% agreement with his conclusion that organizational health trumps vision, strategy, finance and talent.  This is especially relevant when you are working with an organization that is defined by God as a Body.

Imagine being a smart, talented, rich person who is continually sick and plagued with chronic disabilities that must be overcome.  Compare that person with the less intelligent, less talented, less financially blessed person who is healthy, motivated and rarely experiences "sick days."  Who has the advantage?  

Here is a paragraph that caught my attention from Lencioni's most recent book, The Advantage - Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business."

"Becoming a healthy organization takes a little time. Unfortunately, many of the leaders I’ve worked with suffer from a chronic case of adrenaline addiction, seemingly hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their organizations. It’s as though they’re afraid to slow down and deal with issues that are critical but don’t seem particularly urgent. As simple as this may seem, it remains a serious obstacle for many dysfunctional organizations led by executives who don’t understand that old race-car drivers’ axiom: you have to slow down in order to go fast."  Patrick Lencioni - The Advantage 

Romans 12 gives us a description of a healthy body.  In fact, paying attention to the relational health of the church is even classified as a warning in verses 3 through 5.  In our zeal to do God's work we often neglect to be God's Body.  God wants us to be light  and salt  and to be known by our love for one another.  He will do great things through His church when it becomes healthy.

Vision, productivity and financial stability are the natural by-products of a healthy organizational environment.  Dysfunction, financial chaos, employee turnover and declining performance are the by-products of neglecting organizational health.

Check out Acts 2.  Devotion to God's Word . . . Devotion to each other . . . Devotion to prayer . . . Generosity toward each other . . . Praising . . . Positively impacting those outside the church.  How does this description of a healthy church match up with what is happening in your church?

ReFocused Ministry has a great assessment tool and consulting strategy to help restore organizational health to your church.  We also offer personal coaching, one-day realignment conferences and team building workshops.  Contact us, we would love to help you refocus.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Are You Ready? . . . Really, Are You Ready?

I'm preparing for a consult with a church in New Jersey this week.  In the pauses between projects I have been praying for this church and reflecting on the number of pastors and people I have encountered over the past several months who have acknowledged that their church or their personal life is stalled, stuck or even going backwards.

It is pretty common for people to say the existing church is not the transformational element in the culture that we read about in the Scriptures, yet little or nothing is done to address the problem.

"We're just not ready yet." has been the response I have heard from pastors as we discuss the potential of refocusing their church on God's plan and mission.  Individuals will admit their problems and even know what needs to happen, but they will respond with the same reality, "I'm just not ready yet."  Not ready to see God work?  Not ready to address or give up some sinful behavior?  Not ready to experience freedom and victory? Not ready . . . ?

I'm excited for those who not only acknowledge that God wants to do more than is currently happening, but are ready to address the issues and allow the Lord to show them great and mighty things about their future.

The question of the day: Are you ready?   It's been a battle since the beginning . . . don't be like the Corinthians.  God is always ready to bless His children and glorify His name.  What keeps you from addressing what you know is holding you or your church back.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Transforming Churches

I am convinced that the greatest opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel in America is the transformation of the existing church.  In most cases, we don’t need another church anymore than Myrtle Beach needs another golf course.

Today I played golf on a golf course that was all but closed just a couple months ago.  Its greens had weeds growing on them and the fairways were hard and unfriendly.  It came from neglect and a focus on the bottom line instead of the original purpose.  This resulted in fewer golfers, which depleted revenue.  Management blamed the employees and the employees felt management had let them down.  The owners struggled to stay open, but without a major transformation they were doomed to continue to struggle and ultimately close their doors.  Their reputation had gotten so bad that we had to almost drag two of our foursome there because they didn’t believe the course could be good.

New management came in a couple months ago and refocused on the purpose for the existence of the course.  It was there to create an environment for golfers to enjoy and participate in a sport they had chosen to play.  It wasn’t about the money or the notoriety.  Those were both the byproducts of a great vision (purpose) and environment. 

The new management company evaluated everything from the focal point of the course’s purpose.  Fairways were irrigated, aerated and re-seeded.  They chose to re-sod the greens because it would take too long to nurse the existing greens back to health.  They lowered their price per round to encourage people to come and try a course that had a reputation of being a waste of money. 

This course is now the talk of the town.  The management company is forecasting even more improvements and is seeing the original vision of establishing a successful golf course that advances the sport of golf become a reality.  There are many factors that led to the course declining and nearly closing, but drifting from the core purpose of the course and the importance of serving golfers was key.

I know the church is different from a golf course, but vision drift and a failure to maintain a serving environment will erode a church.  The drift is subtle and often the attempts to fix it are frustrating and futile.  Most churches today have fallen into ritual and routine.  New programs are tried, styles of worship are tweaked and facilities are updated with little or no effect. 

In fact, statistical data shows that most existing churches are either stagnant or declining.  Here’s a reality check reported by Drew Goodmanson at

·      In America, 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year
·      Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth

I recently read a statement that seems to sum up the problem: “Our dilemma is that we love change and we hate it at the same time.  What we really want is for things to stay the same, but get better.” 

Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer, from Lifeway Resources, took a very strong look at why some churches seem to be transforming lives and communities while others are struggling to grow.  They found that there are seven elements that are common in all transformational churches.  These same elements can be seen in the church at Antioch.  The results of their study of over 7,000 churches and hundreds of onsite interviews can be found in the book, TheTransformational Church.  Lifeway has also created an assessment that allows a church to evaluate how it aligns with each of these seven areas.  It’s an opportunity for reestablishing  God’s purpose and plan for His Church.

Pastors are burning out and leaving the ministry at an alarming rate.  Many churches only have ten to twenty years remaining until the current attendees pass away or become too old to carry on.  The answer is deeper than dress codes, music and technology.  The answer is found in refocusing on why the church exists.  The church is a lighthouse, a transformational element on the earth.  The church is God’s means of sharing His grace, presenting His gospel and advancing His kingdom.  

The good news is that many churches are at a critical point that allows them to address hard issues.  Churches all across America are refocusing on God’s purpose and becoming the transformational agents God intended them to be when He commissioned them to go into all the world and proclaim the disciple making gospel. 

If your church is ready to refocus, give me a call.  Check us out at  What do you think about the condition of the church in America.  I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Small Groups . . . Really!

You've heard it . . . People,
People who need people,
Are the luckiest people in the world
We're children, needing other children
And yet letting a grown-up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children  (Songwriters: BAINBRIDGE, ADAM)

The Bible declares the same truth.

We hear a lot about small groups in churches, but they are often bible studies, discipleship groups or "part of the church program".  We organize them, manage them and complicate them.  Small groups should be the expression of a God-given reality that people need people, nothing more and nothing less.

No one had to organize small groups for the early church.  Hanging together in church, in their homes and demonstrating a real love for one another came natural.

Thom Rainer discloses five myths about small groups that are worthy of consideration.

The real question is . . . who are you doing life with?  What does your herd look like?

I don't know about you, but I battle with this reality.  I have to be intentional about being with people . . .  I'm a man.  I have discovered that the worst thing I can do is to try to do life alone.  Maybe it's my "grown-up pride" or maybe I've complicated the whole thing, but I know I have to be more intentional about identifying people I can hang with . . . people I can mentor and people who can mentor me.

What do you think?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Getting Back on Mission

In Luke 19:10, Jesus explained why He called a rich man out of a tree and had dinner with him.  It was his mission. He came to seek and to save those who are lost.  Matthew tells us that as Jesus went about doing church stuff (teaching, meeting people's needs, etc) He was never distracted from his mission.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

John remembers that Jesus prayed a powerful prayer to his Father asking for protection and care for Christians.  In the middle of that prayer He said, "Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world."  We, those who are Christians, have the same mission as Jesus.   

It is easy to become distracted from what is important because of what seems to be urgent.  It is easy to make activity so routine that we focus on programs, schedules and tasks and forget the mission. The mission is the "why" we do "what" we do.  

How can we refocus on our God-given mission?  First, everything that takes place in the church needs to be tested with an alignment question: "How will this help lost people come to Christ?"  Even the outcome of a marriage seminar ought to be to help reach people struggling with marriage to understand God's love for them and His design for them and their marriage. Marriage is an evangelistic tool to show what a divine union looks like.

Another great way to help the church get back on mission is to engage in a church-wide Transformational Church Assessment and Discovery.  Make 2012 the year your church got back on track with the most exciting mission the world has ever experienced.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seven Traits of Breakout Churches

I want to share this article by Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources: 
I have been a student of American churches for thirty years. That statement really means two things: I’m old, and I’m a slow learner.
In those thirty years, one of my most fascinating learning ventures has been the discovery of breakout churches. Simply defined, a breakout church is a congregation that has experienced at least five years of decline followed by at least five years of growth. While numerical growth is not the inerrant barometer for church health, we researchers must use numerical gauges for much of our objective data.
The Common Factor
As my research team began sorting and analyzing the data of some 50,000 churches, we found a common factor in many of the breakout churches: the breakout took place when the church got a new pastor. While that finding is helpful from a research perspective, it’s not very helpful to many churches. And it’s certainly not helpful to the pastors of struggling churches.
So our research took a new twist. We only looked at churches that experienced breakoutswithout changing pastors. I was encouraged by our findings. (emphasis mine)
The Seven Traits  . . . click here for the rest of the article by Thom Rainer.
I have recently been trained at LifeWay headquarters as a Transformational Church Consultant which is based upon this research and a study of the church at Antioch (the apostle Paul's home church).  I believe that existing churches are about to breakout as never before.  God is stirring His church.  It is beginning with His pastors and is spreading through His church.  
The stories about breakout churches could very well be the story yet to be told of your church.  I would count it a privilege to encourage, assess, guide, consult and coach your church through the process.  This is the reason ReFocused Ministry exists.  
Are you ready to get off the carousel of churchianity and breakout and become the exciting transformational agent God has designed His church to be?  The transformation of the existing church is the single greatest opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel in America today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Listening to Comprehend

I was recently challenged by Amgen CEO, Kevin Sharer to be a better listener.  I really needed what he had to say.  Listening does not come easily to a type-A personality like me.

Good listeners listen to comprehend . . . not to correct . . . not to contradict . . . not to park until your chance to talk.  We often make assumptions about where the speaker is going and what he or she “might be trying to say.”  We then jump ahead and begin to draw conclusions before the speaker has concluded. 

After you understand what has been said (which may include some clarifying questions), there is ample time to agree, disagree, question, criticize or disregard.  Our listening bandwidth increases greatly as we focus on comprehension.  If we believe that every communication has a takeaway, we are more likely to find that takeaway if we are focused on comprehending what is being said.

Listening to comprehend does several things.  First, it shows high respect for the person talking.  Secondly, it quiets all the distractions that normally occur when we are focused on guarding our opinion or getting our point across.  Finally, it allows for a safe environment for the exchange of ideas and enhances the power of synergy.  Synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable. 

In this day of information overload, bottom-line agendas and short attention spans, listening is becoming a lost art.  I have made becoming a good listener a goal.  For me it is not an easy goal, but it is an important goal.  What do you think?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Responding Appropriately

Things haven’t changed much in the history of man and his relationship with God. We seek God when we need Him and act as though we don’t need Him when things appear to be going well.  I read about a guy who reminded me of this reality and God's mercy.

 "About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. (or maybe a ministry is dying) He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign.  But Hezekiah (sometimes we pastors) did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. (Really?) So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem (sometimes the church).  Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. (read the church)  So the Lord’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime. (repentance for taking credit for God’s blessing)
Hezekiah was very wealthy and highly honored. . . . He built many towns and (multiple campuses) and acquired vast flocks and herds, for God had given him great wealth. . . .  And so he succeeded in everything he did.
However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon (media, magazines, publishers) to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart." (God has a right to humble us sometimes.)  2Chronicles 32:24-31 (additions mine)

God is more concerned about our hearts than He is about our stuff.  Remarkable stuff comes from a remarkable God working through ordinary people who trust the Lord and “respond appropriately to the kindness shown them.” 

Pastor, do you need to refocus on God’s work in your life or in your church?  We are here to help at ReFocused Ministry.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Monument or Movement?

Churchianity or Christianity . . . Church services or Christian servants . . . Monument or Movement . . . a Place or a People . . . Attendance or Advancement . . . Existing or Expanding . . . Protecting or Proclaiming . . . Functioning or Fishing . . . Resting or Risking . . . Satisfied or Striving . . . Sulking or Strategizing . . . Retreating or Refocusing?

Sometimes it is important to ponder on what the Church is and what it isn’t.

The Church, aka the body of Christ on the planet, is a life-proclaiming movement of God.  It is the bearer of God’s message of reconciliation.  It is the example of redemptive life and love. 
It is a group of people who have been:

The Church is not a building or meeting place.  It is not an organization (although bodies do have order).  It is not a private club of righteous people.  (Read about the Pharisees and other religious sorts.)  It is not the way to get to heaven. 

Movements drift into Fraternities . . . Fraternities become Monuments . . . Monuments become obsolete.  The “drift” is where the battle must be won.  The lifespan of any movement is six to ten years unless there is an intentional refocusing of the original vision and purpose.

Most of the time it takes outside eyes to see the inside issues.  Paul coached churches to help them stay on track and sent other men to do the same.  In the Book of Revelation we read of seven coaches (messengers) who were sent to seven churches to help them refocus. 

How about your church?  I’d love to help you address the drift and refocus on God’s plans, purpose and power.  Don't be so independent that you become inbred.  Check us out at and give me a call.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Change is a Top/Down Issue

Almost everyone would agree that the average church in America is in need of change.  But, there would be major disagreement on “what” needs to change.  On average, it appears that many feel the need to change pastors about every three to five years. (And some pastors feel they need to change churches.) Some have decided that they need to change music style or become more “contemporary” in their gathered services.  Some have decided to change locations, change their name or change denominational affiliation.  But, in reality, not much has really changed over the past two decades.

I’d like to boil it down to one key problem that is hindering the church in America from being the active, kingdom-advancing, light-producing, life-changing, hell-robbing body of believers it was designed to be.  As John Maxwell has pointed out, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” 

Many church leaders would agree that missions is important to the church, but few leaders embrace mission as the total purpose of the church (read “the work of the ministry”).  Many churches, because of their leadership, are inward focused, trying to grow, trying to be better, trying to please the membership.  Thriving churches, because of their leadership, are outward focused, striving to reach their community and the world, pushing to get the gospel to as many people as possible, willing to “do whatever it takes” to advance the kingdom of God.

It reminds me of the story of the chicken and the pig and their contribution to the bacon and egg breakfast.  The chicken contributed to the breakfast (We have a missions program.), but the pig gave his all to the breakfast. (We are “all in” and on mission.) 

Being “all in” means sacrifice and commitment.  It is risky and controversial.  It stretches church finances, challenges church programs, elevates kingdom priorities above personal preferences and takes conviction and courage.  It is hard work and offends some religious types, but it sure beats laying an egg.  It all begins with the leader’s perspective of his responsibility to the Lord concerning his call to lead the church.

All other changes that may take place come as a result of pursuing God's purpose for the church.  ReFocused Ministry is here to help pastors and their churches refocus on God’s purpose and experience the power of God’s pleasure.  Contact us.