Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thoughts on Coaching 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about coaching lately and decided to study the coaching style of Paul, the apostle.  I’m going to blog about some of what I discover because I believe coaching is a missing element in many churches today. 

I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith.  May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.  1 Tim 1:2

Some things I note here:
1. God chose to use coaching letters as part of his living word to us.  Coaching is important to God.

2.  Paul had a spiritual relationship to Timothy.  We need to prioritize spiritual relationships.  Who are you engaged with spiritually?

3.  Paul wanted Timothy to know the grace he had learned about.  (1 Corinthians 12:9)  Coaches help people build their dependency on God, not on the coach.  Who is coaching you?  Who are you coaching?

4.  Paul wanted Timothy to understand mercy.  He wanted him to know that God forgives and that he should be merciful . . . on himself and others.  (Matthew5:7)  How important is mercy in your life?

5.  Paul wanted Timothy to experience peace.  Paul knew that something rules or dominates our hearts.  He wanted peace to rule in Timothy’s heart even when chaos was happening around him. (Colossians 3:14-16)  What rules in your heart?

Good coaches are givers.  They see potential in people and want to give them all they need to reach that potential. It begins with a desire to give people the good news of the life they can have through Christ.  Are you a giver or a getter?

God wants us to coach one another . . . Christianity is more than just a weekend experience.  (Hebrews 10:23-25) What do you think?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Put Your Foot Down

God has a purpose and plan for His church.  When we trust God and engage the enemies that await us, we will experience God’s power and protection.  

But many have seen and heard of the power of the enemies who own the land God wants us to inhabit.  There are five kings that want to maintain control over what God has declared for His church: the Church Boss, Financial Challenges, Control Issues, Confrontation and Change.  These five kings intimidate God's people and hinder the advancement of His Name and His Kingdom.

There were five kings that swore Israel would not fulfill God’s plan for them.  Here is what happened when the people, read leaders, decided to follow God rather than fear man: 
When they brought them (the five kings) out, Joshua told the commanders of his army, “Come and put your feet on the kings’ necks.” And they did as they were told. “Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged,” Joshua told his men. “Be strong and courageous, for the LORD is going to do this to all of your enemies.”  Joshua 10:24,25

Most pastors and church leaders know what God’s purpose and plan is for the church, but they live in the wilderness of fear rather than trust the Lord to be with them as they lead His people into their destiny.  The church in America has been in the wilderness long enough.  It is time to be strong and courageous.
Let’s talk.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Choosing to have a Smaller Impact

“Church size affects nearly every aspect of a church; bigger churches are not simply larger versions of smaller churches, but rather very different organizations.”  Mark Driscoll

Bigger churches are focused on evangelism and continually change and restructure to encourage and accommodate growth.  (Acts2:41-47)  God has given me a heart for existing churches and called me to be a missionary to the existing church, but it is not merely for the sake of the church . . . it is because I desire for the gospel to have a larger impact in the American culture.

Tony Morgan recently shared seven reasons churches choose to stay small and thus have a smaller gospel (kingdom) impact.

  1. Churches get pulled in many different directions and lack a unified purpose, even though the Bible reminds us “There should be no division in the body.”
  2. Churches hold on to their structure, even though Scripture tells us “New wine calls for new wineskins.”
  3. Churches don’t define and implement strategies to accomplish God’s vision, even though the Proverbs tell us “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity.”
  4. Churches don’t embrace new leadership, even though God’s Word instructs us to find capable people and “Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.”
  5. Churches fail to establish systems, even though we know “God is not a God of disorder.”
  6. Churches don’t prepare financially for the future, even though Jesus told us to “First sit down and estimate the cost.”
  7. Churches don’t welcome counsel from people with experience, even though we’re reminded “Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.”
I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. We can’t become the church God intends for us to be if we’re unwilling to become the church God intends for us to be.

ReFocused Ministry exists to help pastors and churches refresh, refocus and realign with the God-glorifying, life-giving, world-changing, hell-robbing role God has designed for His church.  Check us out here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Quit Tweaking

Tweak- to touch something up, fiddle with the finishing touches or make tiny little changes. 

Many times when things aren't going right we go about tweaking systems and environments. Truth is, tweaking doesn't change anything. It can only improve what is already working.  Churches continue to tweak things because real change is challenging, controversial and requires a clear vision, strong leadership and sacrificial buy-in. 

Although there were some good things happening at the church at Ephesus, God didn't ask them to tweak a few things. He said they needed to do a 180 (repent) and get back on course. They needed to re-evaluate everything they were doing.  (Rev 2:1-7) 

Changing the music, decor, dress code or front door greeters will not produce real, fruit-bearing change. To experience real change takes a commitment to realigning core strategy with God's purpose for the church and a willingness to challenge anything and everything to facilitate that alignment.  This includes core programs, long held traditions and possibly even the name of the church.  

We are not called to perpetuate an organization (the church, inc.) or protect nostalgic traditions. We are not called to engage in a church-centered religious system, which is mere churchianity. 

We are called to present the life-giving gospel to as many people as possible and train Christians to do the same.  We are called to be fully engaged in a Christ-centered evangelistic system called Christianity. The message never changes, but methodology and strategy change continually. 

Quit trying to tweak things. Be passionate about what God wants to do through His church and embrace kingdom-building change. (Matt 6:33)  What do you think?  Comment here and/or contact me at  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Living in Harmony

Harmony is the opposite of unison.  It appears to me that the church world has mistaken unison for unity, but Christianity produces unity through harmony.  Harmony is a combination of different sounds that blend together to create beautiful, moving music. 
The message to the church at Corinth begins with this challenge and then spends the remaining chapters dealing with the fruits of disharmony and selfishness.  Without this underlying foundation, all attempts at addressing issues and problems become futile. 
God describes “living in harmony” as being of one mind, united in thought and purpose.  These three foundations allow the church to stay on course during the storms of life and the challenges of opposing voices. (see 1 Corinthians 1:10)

One mind . . . Philippians 2:1-8 describes the attitude or mindset we need to have in order to harmonize our diversity into the beautiful music God designed the church to make.  We are to be unselfish (not seeking a solo part) and be humble (acknowledging the value of the other instruments in the orchestra).  Jesus was entitled to everything because He was God, but He surrendered everything in order to do what He was sent to do.  His mind, motive and heart-of-hearts was not to manipulate life for His own comfort or advantage, but to surrender His life to God’s purpose and the advantage of others.  What is your motive for doing what you do?

United in thought . . . Philippians 4:4-9 challenges us to be intentional in what we think about.  There is plenty of negative stuff, uncertain stuff and potential peril to dwell on or worry about.  The marketplace, including the news media, feeds on this tendency to see the glass half empty.  God says to vent to Him (read pray) and be thankful He is on our side.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  “Fix” means to consider, count on and focus on.  It means to buy into God’s view of things rather than the world’s view.

United in purpose . . . Philippians 3:7-14 describes how we are to set all things aside in the pursuit of Christ and the journey He has planned for us.  Christ had one purpose. (see Luke 19:10)  He empowered us for one purpose. (see Acts 1:8) And He gave the church one assignment. (see Matthew 28:18-20) All the other benefits of being born again are to be attractions to that one purpose.

The church is a collection of diverse people who are humbly laying aside their personal preferences and focusing on God’s powerful, positive work in a fallen world in order to present the good news of the life-giving, life-changing opportunity found in Christ.

First Corinthians chapter one ends with these words:  “God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.  Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”

This may very well determine the difference between Churchianity (unison) and Christianity (harmony).  May the world be attracted to Christ through the harmony He creates in His church.  What kind of music is your church making?  We get more concerned about the style of music on the platform than the kind of music we are making as a church body.  That's a subject for another blog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ask the Right Question

I had the privilege of serving at Barefoot Church in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where we averaged about 300 baptisms each year.  The church grew to over 2000 people in a little over five years.  Myrtle Beach is a popular vacation area for pastors (hear golf) and I had opportunity to talk to a lot of pastors who visited our church because they wanted to see their church reaching more people. 
                  They all had a similar question: “What are you doing that is reaching all these people?” My response was always, “You are asking the wrong question.”  If most churches did what we did it where they live it would be really weird.  The right question would be, “Why do you do what you do?”  We do what we do because we want to reach people who avoid the church or the gospel because they have had a bad experience in church or have heard negative stuff about the gospel. 
                  Because of this strong “why,” our "what" becomes creative and intentional.  We will do anything short of sin to get the gospel to people and people to the gospel.  We don’t do stuff to be cool or because “everyone is doing it”.  We do what we do because it produces the outcome of why we exist.  Too many churches are counting nickels and numbers and trying to find gimmicks to increase both.  It’s impossible to keep up with that kind of strategy.
                  The question is: “Why does your church exist?”  The next question is: “What can you do to accomplish why you exist?”  The focus is on the vision (why).  The measurement is the outcome (saved lives).  The ever-changing, creative, intentional methodology functions between these two realities.  If what you are doing is not producing why you exist . . . you must change what you are doing.  No exceptions.
                  Don’t worry about what others are doing.  Focus on what you are doing.  Why are you doing it?  What is the outcome?  Keep doing what you are doing and you will keep getting the same outcome.  Own the outcome . . . go back to the “WHY” . . . and prayerfully, creatively figure out the "what".   Then . . . surround yourself with a team and figure out how you are going to do what you have to do to accomplish the unique mission God has given your church.
                  Ready to begin?  Contact us at:

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Potential Found in Existing Churches

             We need to start a discussion about the state of the existing church in America.  I am not suggesting that we start ragging on churches or playing the comparison game.  I am not into pointing out a negative reality to demonstrate that I am not a part of that reality and I am certainly not professing to have all the answers.  I do have a heavy heart and urgent concern when I read statistics, talk to struggling pastors and visit stagnant churches. 

            According to George Barna , 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year and half of all churches last year did not add one new member through conversion growth(Twentysomethings Struggle to Find Their Place in Christian Churches)  Statistics from The Condition of the Church in America, complied by Andy McAdams state that:
    Only 15% of churches in the United States are growing and just 2.2% of those are growing by conversion growth (as opposed to competitive growth from other churches)
             A good argument can be made for re-planting or refocusing existing churches in order to advance the gospel in America.  Here are just a few advantages existing churches have:
1.   Most existing churches own their facilities
2.  Existing churches have a core of people already gathered together
3.   Existing churches have their 501c3 status and all the organizational red tape done
            Why is it so hard to see existing churches restored to their biblical purpose and vision?  I have several suggestions:
            1. There is a group of people who have claimed the church as their own and have lost all understanding of the nature of the Church and Christ’s headship and purposes for it.
            2. It is often hard for those involved in an organization to understand how they got to where they are and how to get to where they know they ought to be.
            3. The thought of change evokes fear, which leads to resistance, threats and negative forecasts. (and sometimes costs the pastor his job)
            4. There is a spiritual battle and the gates of hell are set against the church.
            5. The evil twins of Pride and Denial refuse to take the radical steps necessary to address the problem and recruit outside help.
            I see a bright future for many existing churches in America as they refocus, restructure and renew their biblical vision and purpose.  ReFocused Ministry exists to advance the gospel by helping pastors and churches refocus on their vision and purpose.  Contact us if we can be of assistance to your church.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Restoring Vision and Purpose

            After a season of vision and purpose most churches fall into the plateau or decline of maintenance mode.  This can happen to what we term as “contemporary” churches as much as it can to “traditional” churches.  It can be true of a church of 100 or a church of 1,000.  You can determine if this has happened to your church by asking a few simple questions:
            1.  Can most people state the vision statement of the church?
            1.  Are you comfortable with allowing people to leave the church?
            2.  Is your annual per-convert-cost under $10,000?  (vision and purpose can be measured)
            3.  Are you seeing at least one new face every weekend?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions there is a good chance that you have drifted into maintenance mode.
            A well-defined and communicated vision declares a destination and defines the way we are going to get there. It is attractive to many, but it also repels many.  If no one is saying, “what you're doing is just not for me”, you probably do not have a well-defined and communicated vision.
            A well-defined vision eliminates and says no to more activities and programs than it chooses.  A clear vision says no to good things so that you can focus on great things.
            Jesus had a clear vision statement.  It is stated in Luke 19:10.  “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”   This defined the places He went, the people He engaged, and the controversy He endured.  It allowed Him to say “no” to temptation in the desert and “yes” to the cost of the cross in the garden.  
            The church at Ephesus experienced an exciting, launch when the apostle Paul brought the gospel to their city.  (1Cor16:8-9) A generation later, God sent a message to them in the book of Revelation and pointed out that they had drifted into maintenance mode.  They were doing everything correctly.  They “defended the faith”, knew who the bad guys were and worked hard at “church”.   But they had drifted from their original vision and purpose, which was to rock Ephesus with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They had lost their love for God’s gospel vision.  They had stopped doing what they did at first.  (Rev 2:2-5)
            It took an outside messenger to help the church at Ephesus define the problem.  Paul helped the church at Corinth see its problems.  He coached Timothy when he was challenged with the difficulties of God’s call on his life.  James encouraged the Jewish converts who were scattered by persecution.  If you sense that you have entered into maintenance mode, it may be time to call someone to put some objective eyes on the ministry. 
            The exciting news is that vision and purpose can be re-established and a local church can once again experience the excitement of seeing God use them to transform lives and advance His kingdom.