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Major Transition reality for the Renner Family…

 

It has been around 365 days since I moved into Fountain Hills AZ, and began my new ministry venture at the Church called Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills.

I am grateful for the large numbers of people that have been watching, praying, and cheering for the Renner family from a distance.

I want to compare my experience to previous ones.  I have been in some kind of professional ministry for the past 27 years.  The different titles I have been given through those 27 years within the local church have been; Preaching Pastor, Youth Pastor, Associate Pastor, Singles Pastor, First Impressions Pastor, Evangelism Pastor, Church Planter, Merging pastor, Senior Minister, Lead Minister, President of Mission Org, Bible Teacher, and a few titles that I have heard whispered behind closed doors about me.  LOL!

All is good.  I write this blog to the professional pastor out there and I have one purpose and point in this post.  For those who are not a professional pastor, I hope you will read and be challenged to encourage your pastor, who may not always show it in ways you think you need, but he/she loves you and wants to protect you, and prepare you to meet Jesus someday, like nobody else in your life.

Out of all the titles I’ve held over the past 27 years, the current title I hold has been the most challenging and difficult thing I’ve done.  The title is best described in its simplest form as Lead Pastor.  But that title is not the best description of my title.  The real title, in the eyes of those my position has affected the most, is …”Our Next Pastor.”

It is a legitimate title, because I have been called it too many times to count in just the last year. Its not a bad title and in all honesty it really is the most fitting title for the situation.  I’m good with the title.

After 26 years of very successful ministry endeavors, this year 27 has had me feeling like I didn’t have a clue in what I was doing.  In the past 27 years, I have been more of a church planter type lead pastor than anything else.  So when I transitioned into the role of “our next pastor” to replace a retiring founding pastor who had tenure for 33 years, I really had no idea what I was getting into.  And I got into it thick!  From what I’ve been told or have read about other pastors who have transitioned into the role of “our next pastor”… I’ve had it pretty good.  In fact this isn’t my first rodeo with trying to be the “our next pastor.”  I tried it once in a church in FL and literally quit 7 weeks into it.  It just wouldn’t be right to share the gory details of that hardship my family encountered…but…  all  that to say, becoming “our next pastor” is not for the faint of heart.  It is not fun, but it is good. It literally is the hardest thing I’ve done in professional ministry.  So…what’s my main point here? Keep reading…

Many USA resources are stating that around 10,000 baby boomers, people born between 1946-1964, are retiring everyday right here in the good ol USA… and will continue to do so until 2036. Google it, its crazily true.  Calculate that and it equals more than 80 million people retiring in the next 19 years.

I believe it is fair for me to guess, then, that there will be a multitude of founding pastors in that mix of retirees.  Which means there will be multitudes of “our next pastors” stepping into their shoes, picking up their torches, or taking their batons.  For those who are about to step into the shoes of those retiring founding pastors, please heed my words of warning.

There is nothing more leadership intensively difficult, nothing more hazardous to orchestrate, nothing more uncertain in its success, that will leave you feeling isolated and abandoned, than to fill the shoes of a retiring-founding pastor, and be the one who introduces a new era of influence. You, serving as ‘Our Next Pastor’ will have enemies in all those who love the old form, and at best, lukewarm support in all those who will benefit by the new. So, for God’s sake, for the Church’s sake, for the lost’s sake, for a troubled world’s sake, look forward, move forward, dig deep, for the very reason this situation is happening, is because the current status quo isn’t working anymore. Lead on, O’ leader, lead on!  You only need the solid rock on which you stand, to be your inspiration…Jesus…to remind you that He can do immeasurably more than you dare to ask or hope for! So persist, press on, endure! Let Jesus be your only audience you desire to please, and He alone must be your faith, your hope, and your love.  You are the, ‘our next Pastor’!  You got this! 

If I can personally visit with you over the phone, email, or at a table, with a hot cup of coffee or Dr. Pepper with a wedge of lime squeezed in it, please just ask.  I’ve been taking extremely thorough notes through this adventure. I am seeing success. More time will tell the truth in how I’m doing.  It has become vividly clear to me why churches struggle to produce fruit beyond the 100, 200, & 400 growth barriers. I can help you! I know I will pump you up!! 🙂  And even more, I know I would also learn from you.  I’d be grateful to swap stories with you, compare scars, celebrate our victories, cry through the heart wrenching experiences our families face as we lead people to experience God, and most of all, I simply want to encourage you, and have you walk away with shining eyes!

This is really, really good work we do.  Of course it is hard. It reminds us how alive we really are.

 

 

 

 


Do you innovate or Discover? We all lead…What kind of leader are you?

If you have the perseverance to read this article, you will be able to identify which category of person you are. Do you have the mentality of innovation or discovery?

A flyover of the differences between the two are simply understood this way… In innovative ventures, there is the all important rule…and it is this…

“FOLLOW ALL THE RULES”

That’s the code of the innovative organization. You follow the rules, restrictions, and systems, because we believe they’re up-to-date, effective, and correct, and that’s what makes us who we are.

In innovative ventures, obedience is its own reward, is required, and is prized.

Innovators…

Webster says that innovation is, “to make changes, or do something in a new way.” In Non-webster terms I would say it this way. Innovation is to take something old and make it useable in a new way. Innovation is reformation. Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and adapting it, so it works over here in a better way than it worked over there.

Is this a bad thing? No. I’m not opposed to the product that innovation creates, I’m disturbed by what the innovation process does to the innovators.

To innovate something usually requires an attitude of, “needs improvement.” Such an attitude is not necessarily a bad thing. Great leaders have the ability to see what’s not working and make necessary changes. The tricky part is, an attitude of “that needs improvement” is usually preceded by an attitude of “I can do it better.”

It’s very difficult to be humble with an “I can do it better,” attitude, and the frustrating thing is, this naturally breeds arrogance.

There are some common errors that innovators make that create their own demise. The Wall Street Journal recently came up with a list of 5 commons mistakes of Innovators. I will give a brief description of the mistakes and if you want to read the full article you can go to this link and read the details.

http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/05/23/five-common-mistakes-business-leaders-make-about-innovation/?mod=google_news_blog

The 5 common errors of Innovators…And I added a sixth.

1. You believe your own numbers and stats. You insist on “seeing the numbers” too soon and all you have to base your numbers on, is your current statistics, compared to your past.

2. The Success Trap. When a company gets success, it easily can focus on what they think is the thing that made them successful. This focus on “what got us here” causes a crowding out of other options, especially from new people that have joined you. This causes success fragility. In their book “In Search of Excellence,” by Peters and Waterman, the authors tell the fate of 43 companies recently leading the world that got caught in this trap. Today only 5 of those 43 companies even exist.

3. Believe they know the competition. The innovative company tends to make huge mistaken identity gaffs when it comes to identifying the competition. Ask the innovative CEO, “Who is your competition?” They will usually reply with the company that is most like them. The problem with this is that history proves that our greatest competitors usually come from a different angle. i.e. Shipping companies suffered from the steam engine, newspapers are in trouble because of the internet, watch companies suffer because of time being displayed on mobile phones.

4. Believe that because everybody had always done it this way, it is the best way of doing the next “new” thing. When America landed on the moon…Innovation built the rocket, the space suits, space food, etc. But innovation is not what Neil Armstrong used when he put his hand on the door hatch and opened the door to outer space to take his first step onto the moon’s surface. That was sheer discovery…no longer could innovation be used. Talk about a humbling moment.

5. Asking the customers for their opinion. The innovative company is really good at answering the questions that their non-customers never ask. The customers have already bought into the company. Why are we asking them what they want? It actually gets worse…Think about it, the company’s leadership team, that has innovated its idea from an old idea, is now sitting around the table making decisions based off of what has been done to try to keep going to next levels.

6. Stop taking real risks. Most innovative companies are led by people who ultimately are not risk takers. There is a difference between risk taking and calculated risk taking. Innovative Leaders are safe “risk” takers. They only take calculated risks with what they understand. The problem with this lies in the fact that if you are the company in the lead…which means nobody has gone before you on this journey…you can’t calculate what to do, because their has been nothing done before you to calculate. There is nothing to do but risk. Companies in the lead usually end up not being in the lead anymore, because the Leader ran out of ideas to innovate.

Innovation is good. Discovery is Great! Let’s break down discovery…
Webster says that Discovery is, “The act of finding or learning something for the first time.”

My heart beats faster, just after reading that definition. You’ve read the headlines…“Her research led to a number of important discoveries. Discovered a talented musician. Voyage of discovery. It was one of the most important discoveries in the history of _____________!”

Discovery!

Think of Lewis and Clark and their expedition of discovery. It required teamwork. It required admitting that they had no clue what they were going to really encounter. Discovery has a knack of showing all involved that they are not in control. Discovery forces all involved to admit this phrase; “I don’t know!” Therefore, discovery creates humility.

Here’s what is exciting to me about the key difference between innovation and discovery. I wrote earlier that Innovation breeds arrogance. What’s evident about discovery, is that it breeds humility.

An arrogant person thrust into an environment of discovery will be forced to become humble. Humility is born and bred in the middle of uncertainty and danger. Opening yourself or your organization to uncertainty and danger creates humility.

Discoverers have to rely on and trust each other. Which team would you rather work on? Innovation or Discovery? In his book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins differentiates between Levels 1,2,3,4, & 5 leaders. Collins talks about how level 4 leaders and level 5 leaders can produce very similar results, but a key difference between a level 4 leader and a level 5 leader is humility or lack there of. Level 5 leaders always lead through humility. Level 5 leaders tend to lead companies with the reputation for being Discovery oriented. By the way, if you doubt you are a humble leader, then you are humble.

A good example of creating humility through discovery would be taking an innovative person, as described earlier, and put them in the front of a raft as everybody White Water Rafts down some grade 5 rapids. The typical innovative person will have their arrogance washed away (in this case maybe literally). This setting of discovery forces arrogance to morph into humility.

A quick comparison of Discovery and Innovation. Innovation focuses on the outcome and results. Discovery focuses on the cause and the behavior, while on the journey, no matter the end result.

When it comes to discovery, the most important things are not at the end of the Journey, its what develops and shapes along the journey that makes champions.

Discovery is all about the mentality of facilitating the progress and purpose of others. Discovery is fun along the way because of the thrilling unknown yet to be discovered, and it cannot be about you. It has to be about others, especially your teammates. This kind of work environment is thrilling.
The attitude of discovery has no silos among the team. Innovative environments create hierarchies and power pyramids and is led by bosses that control and measure according to a predetermined end result they will strive to achieve at all costs.

Discovery creates circles of people that honor and trust each other’s strengths. This silo-less discovery team, has a leader without a Boss mentality. The buck must stop somewhere, but the buck stops with the one who is the functional leader. A true leader is one who naturally facilitates the purpose and progress of all the others in the circle.

There is no “Boss Mentality” in the circle of discovery. Why? Because when you are out discovering and the “boss” finds himself in quicksand, the boss mode just got stuck. They are now the beggar, and now that they are helpless, depending on how they treated their “subordinates,” they might be left to die and it all be covered up as a tragic accident!

The Innovative Mentality is focused on the orgs final results and goals.

The Discovery Mentality isn’t focused on the organization as much as it focuses on the environment within the organization.

The Discovery Mentality is full of observation towers, not silos. It discovers from its own customer but is overloaded with interaction with the lives of others outside its own company…a team on discovery!

A company of discovery never polls its own, only interacts. You can’t poll something that is yet to be discovered and so the company of discovery is full of trial and error.

It has a culture of discovery and grace. How many times did Abe Lincoln fail? How many times did Albert Einstein fail? With unknowns around every corner, discovery keeps you and the team humble. It has a great sense of humor and often laughs at itself. It has a mentality of meshing and sharing with others. It has a trust in every individual in the company to utilize and expand on their own personal expertise and strengths. Team and Trust are a must in Discovery Companies. The company of discovery has an attitude of servant-hood and adventure and considers others better than self.
There is a fine line here. Its complex. Discovery companies will innovate because they didn’t have arrogance to breed from. Innovative companies rarely discover because they started with an attitude of arrogance.

My simple question is…which company do you want be a part of? Here’s what is awesome about companies of discovery. They never end. They continue to discover and adapt and discover into the future.

Companies of innovation sooner or later celebrate among themselves how they achieved their final result, they celebrate their first place status, because…they nailed their ultimate goal! Hip Hip Hooray….Hip Hip Hooray. Its at this Hip-Hip-Hooray staff meeting where they unknowingly signed the slow-death certificate. Innovative companies, in first place, have nothing left to innovate on, and these are the companies people talk about when they think back at what used to be amazing.

Innovation routes always have dead ends. Yep, I said it, always. Discovery routes may have cul-de-sacs, but cul-de-sacs and dead ends are very different, and it is measured out in arrogance or humility.

I by no means am an expert in this. I’m simply on a discovery journey.  I am thinking out loud.  I’d enjoy your comments and thoughts.  I’m still discovering what really works for me and its an adventure that is quite thrilling and very humbling.


What kind of Church are you a part of?

Getting back into the Senior Leadership of a Church has been thrilling.  It is definitely my strength and sweet spot that God designed and called me to do. I love Church world. The good, the bad and the ugly. It makes for an intriguingly interesting life!

I love how The Church around the world comes in many forms and persuasions.  The only thing required to be The Church is obedience to Jesus.

My wife Kelli and I were fortunate years back to be invited into what is called the Mega-Church pastor’s annual conference, where senior leaders of about 60-100 churches all averaging above 1000 in attendance met around round tables to talk Church World stuff.  When Kelli and I attended our first one, we both confess to this day, that we had expectations of what all these Pastors would look and sound like.  We expected them all to look and sound alike.  The reality is that we couldn’t have been further from the truth. These Pastors and spouses were extreme in their differences.  We were both very excited and enlightened that God uses all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people. (duh!)  The local Church is awesome…when it is healthy.  The local Church is disastrous when it is sick.

I was thinking, that albeit the leaders in different churches are all different, the Church itself, when it comes to actual Church Health…has only a few types to choose from.  I think there are 3 typical types of Churches in the world.  By types, I mean, how they are led.  Leadership is everything!  The 3 major kinds of Churches are noted below with my incredible artistic abilities. LOL

Please know…I’m not being dogmatic about this.  I’m open to other types.  Share them with me, and I’ll express them in more fantastic art!   I agree that anomalies exist.  I hate putting God in compartmentalized boxes. (I’m not putting God in a box.  I’m pointing out Churches that are stuck in boxes)

The three diagrams below are considered very typical and are prevalent Churches in the world.  One of the mentalities below is a very healthy Church.  (Note I didn’t say, perfect.)  There is no such thing.  But in the 3 types of Churches…the Staff-Led Church (Pic 3) is by far…BY FAR…the healthiest.  The Pastor as CEO mentality (pic 2) has a lot of health, but also a lot of sickness.  The typical Elder-Led mentality(Pic 1) is overtly sick with small elements of health trying to overpower the sickness.

My point of all this today…  Hierarchies in the Church World do not work in a world that is cursed with sin.  Jesus crushes heirarchy mentalities, because He is at the top of all heirarchies and he washes the feet of his enemy and demands the last shall be first and the top shall be bottom. (I suppose the truth is that…Jesus doesn’t crush hierarchies…He just leaves them.)   So…if your Church is a hierarchy…it is extremely sick.  I suggest pic 3 below as your church of choice.  If you are in a church that is pic 1 or 2… I’m sorry.  Good luck changing it.  You might have to, instead, move to a healthy church instead of change the one you are in.  Insert something here about old dogs and tricks.  Not impossible…but nearly.   I repeat. Heirarchy Churches are sick and they need a serious long term visit from the one who is nicknamed, The Great Physician.  That’s not Dr Oz.  It’s Jesus. 🙂  I’m so grateful to be in a Staff-Led, Elder protected Church.  Boom!  It is incredible!  I freaking love it.

I could break these down and make an entire book out of them.  But…this is all you get today.  Pick which Church you are in.  Decide what you are going to do about it.  Contribute to these thoughts in the comments section.  I’m sure there are a few other styles, but they are very rare.  Below is that fabulous art I promised above…The 3 most typical types of Churches are….

Pic 1 

Pic 2

Pic 3


Leadership as a Spiritual Gift — vs — Leadership as a Verb

EVERYBODY LEADS…

Leadership really seems to be a sensitive subject lately. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the past decade, leadership and leaders have been under intense scrutiny.  There are many characteristics that come to mind when someone says the word, leader.  Is it just me, or in the past decade has something shifted in our culture that causes negative stereotypes to intrude our brains the instant we hear the word leader?

If you’d like to read a side post in regards to what are called the top 101 qualities of a leader, just click the picture below and enjoy

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.00.51 PM

My first sentence of this post simply states that everybody leads.  I think that most agree, leadership, in its truest definition, is simply influence.  So, in that sense, we all lead because we all influence something or someone.  With that, I want to bring about the fact that there is a difference between Leadership as a verb…which we all do, and Leadership as a Spiritual Gift, which has been given to some and not to others.  The Bible is clear about this in the letter to the Romans in chapter 12:3-8...

Many Gifts but One Body

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence;  (“Whoomp, there it is!”) 🙂 
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

I’m writing about this, because it has become personal to me.  By personal, I don’t mean in an offensive way, I mean in a way that has become personally obvious to me and has impacted me personally.  Since the merge of Parkway Christian Church with Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2011, I have been trying to get back into a Lead Pastor position with a local Church, anywhere in the USA, for the past 5 years and I have encountered a tragic phenomena.  I have encountered more than 30 different local churches across the country saying they are looking for their Church’s next leader/Lead Pastor to lead them into the next phases of their church life…and…as I have delved in with them, in regards to what they mean when they say LEADER, I have come to the conclusion that most really don’t want a leader, but a shepherd, or a manager, or worst case scenario, a hired hand that simply does what he is told…but in its spiritual definition…they actually do not want a leader.  They want a Leader as a Verb, but not a spiritually gifted leader.  The first is safe, the second is risky and dangerous.

Bill Hybels spoke up recently about leadership and the Church…here is a poster of what he said…

Now, please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people without the spiritual gift of leadership should not lead a church.  I am simply asking us all to consider the fact that a church lead by a Leader, gifted with the Romans 12:8 spiritual gift leadership, will be a very different church than one lead by a shepherd, Teacher, Evangelist, a manager, or any other gift mix.

It seems obvious that each gift type grows a different type of fruit, and, not always but most of the time, a different size of harvest. I think many people are afraid to talk about why some churches are smaller than others.  If I could miraculously remove political correctness, insecurities, all sensitivities, and simply speak with impersonal facts…then the answer of why some churches reach mega amounts of people in a very short time, and others stay under 200 for hundreds of years, are mostly simple.

Some answers are as simple as the population of the city the church is geographically located in.  Other answers are found in a lack of strategy.  Most answers, in my opinion, are simply found in the Leadership and how he/she is spiritually gifted.  (In this setting, it would be very easy to use the parable of the talents that Jesus teaches.  Have we considered whether or not that parable could have been titled, The parable of the spiritually gifted?”   If you have time for more reading…then read the parable here and transpose the word ‘talents‘ with ‘spiritual gifts‘ and see if it makes sense. (In fact…depending on the translation, some translations use the word servants instead of the word talents.)  Here is the passage… Matthew 25:14-30

A church that is lead by a group of Elders will have a certain kind and amount of results/harvest.

A church that is lead by a shepherding gifted leader is typically going to have a smaller, very loving, intimate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a manager-type gifted pastor will have a unique, often corporate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a group of 5-10 high financially giving members holding the power will have a specific end-result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a teaching-gifted pastor is going to have a specific result/harvest.

They are all different.  Better or worse?  That’s for the eye of the beholder and ultimately for God to decide.

One thing that is very clear…a Church that is lead by a Leader who has the Romans 12:8 gift of Leadership is very obvious. Like it, love it, or hate it, that fact cannot be denied.

I think the passage below from Proverbs sums it up pretty well…think about it.

“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”  Proverbs 14:4

Our culture, for some safety reason, is afraid of strong leadership.  No doubt a strong leader will stir it up, break power controls, push us out of our comfort zones, and even sometimes make messes…but the fruit produced is tremendous.

Perry Noble said, “The size of the dream you have, is directly correlated with the amount of pain and suffering you are willing to endure.”  Solomon was right…the stable might get dirty, but wow…what a reward.

I know that we can agree that the Church is living in interesting times and facing difficult circumstances.  If Bill Hybels is right in his statement above, then there are some serious decisions that need to be made in The Church. If you are currently looking for a Lead Pastor, does your church have the courage to allow a leader, with the spiritual gift of leadership, lead you?  If so, get ready to begin an unforgettable adventure with a huge harvest of fruit on the way.