Three Ways to (Humbly) Grow Your Influence As a Leader

Tom Harper pic for blog

I’m continuing my break from blogging and social media, so I thought I’d share some great content from my friend, Tom Harper each day this week. Today’s blog post is SO good. I’m on a journey from a life full of pride to walking humbly in the Spirit. You can read about my confession HERE. Today’s blog post was right up my alley!

Tom Harper is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H).

Last week I was honored to speak at the TurnAround20/20 Conference in Nashville, TN, where I got to meet Tom in person. He graciously offered to provide blog posts for me so I could finish my rest from technology. So enjoy! Here’s Tom’s next blog for this week:


The Bible teaches the right way to build a personal leadership reputation. If you feel you need more credibility, or if you feel your authority needs more weight, the book of John offers three tactics for going to the next level.

1.  Encourage a culture of commitment.  An organization is not merely its products, services, brand, or employees. It is the sum of its commitments. When people keep their promises to each other, work gets done.

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemed Presbyterian Church in New York, teaches that making commitments is how you form bonds with people. In John chapter 21, Jesus restores Peter, who had disowned him after Jesus’ arrest. Restoration occurs only because Peter makes new commitments that cancel out his earlier abandonment.

To raise my leadership profile, I must make and keep more promises, and hold others accountable for theirs.

2.  Speak to individuals in the herd.  Herd behavior describes how individuals can act together without planned direction. When a large group of animals flees a predator, each animal tries to move to the center of the group, creating the illusion that the herd is acting as a unit, when in reality it’s a collection of self-seeking individuals.

Jesus understood the mentality of the selfish herd. He knew many people were reluctant to support him out of personal fear of the authorities.

Great leaders speak to their audience as a herd of individuals, responding to self-interests by addressing objections, fears and desires.

3.  Try out the benefits of humiliation.  Jesus went deeper than mere servant leadership. In John 13, he washed his disciples’ feet, the humiliating act of a slave. While humiliation is the greatest fear of many leaders, it actually strengthens bonds and warms hearts.

Lisa White, an employee of Southmountain Children and Family Services in Nebo, NC, told her boss she wouldn’t live much longer without a kidney transplant. His reaction was to be the donor himself. He said the decision was easy. Lisa’s return to work and normal life was swift. What would cause her boss to undergo such voluntary pain and sacrifice?


The Conference that Will Explode your Church with Growth

I’m always on the look out for quality events where I can grow and train my staff at the same time. I want to put this event on your radar: My friend Bob Franquiz is hosting The Pull Conference on September 18th at 1PM EST.

Bob’s new book Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic is releasing on September 15th and to celebrate the book’s release, Bob is hosting a free conference to help churches grow this Fall.

Check out who is speaking at the event…

This event is focusing on what you need to do to see explosive growth in your church this Fall.

Here are the topics they’ll be drilling down on at the conference:

#1 – Mobilizing your Congregation

#2 – Preaching with the Unchurched in Mind

#3 – Creating an Evangelistic Culture in your Church

#4 – Launching your Fall series like you’re Re-launching your church

#5 – Using Strategic Outreach to Reach Unchurched People

Plus, Bob is leading a Live pre-conference call where he’s going to be sharing our Fall launch strategy step-by-step.

The Pull Conference is happening on Wednesday, September 18th at 1PM EST.

The pre-conference event is happening on September 12th at 3PM EST.

I’ve had this event marked on my calendar for weeks. Be there!

*** Here’s the link to register:

The Tension is Good

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 11.52.55 AM

I remember years ago attending a Catalyst event and hearing Andy Stanley talk about how the “tension is good.” I’m a both-and kind of guy anyway – that’s just how I’m wired. I’ve already blogged before about the tension I feel between evangelism and discipleship at my church. The tension I’ve been wrestling with lately is between being an attractional church and a missional church and leader (as you can see on my Twitter profile above).

As I’ve said before, we’ve been studying Deep and Wide as a staff and leadership team at my church. We focus our Sunday morning experiences a lot like North Point, yet like the book suggests, we hope to be both deep and wide. We are an attractional church – there’s no way around it. We put a lot of effort into our Sunday morning experience (worship, tech, first impressions, children) and we hope people far from God feel welcomed and right at home when they visit.

Spending Today with Hugh Halter

photo (12)

Today I’m participating in a seminar/discussion with Hugh Halter with my friends here in Joplin, MO that are a part of Forge Joplin. Great discussion so far. I’ll be writing about this more in the future. Back to it!

Systems are the Key to Sustainable Church Growth

Today is the second post from my friend, Michael Lukaszewski. Again, I’d like to encourage you to check out his free webinar today. See details at the bottom. Here’s his blog post:

In 2005, after a dozen years of working with students, we moved from Arkansas to Atlanta to start a new church.  It launched in 2006 in a movie theater.

Our church grew quickly in the first year —from a launch team of about twenty-five people to over eight hundred people on our one-year anniversary. That’s like a cute little puppy growing into a 100lb guard dog in no time flat.

A little after that one year mark, I had a mini-crisis, because I realized that we didn’t have any systems in place to deal with the rapid growth. We had succeeded in getting people to church, but we hadn’t answered the question, “What next?” How are we going to disciple these people? How are we going to stay organized?

We realized that we didn’t have healthy systems to sustain this growth. You might not get excited about systems, and if you’re a visionary leader, systems might want to make you drive your car off a cliff. But systems are important.

If you’re attracting people, but not keeping people, you could have a systems problem. If you’re launching programs, and changing them all the time, that’s a systems problem. Many of the problems we were facing were systems problems. We failed to realize that while systems were not sexy, they are a huge contributor to success. I was getting mad about problems in our church, but they would be repeated frequently because we were not addressing the systems that created the problems in the first place.

So eighteen months in, I went to work on our systems. I made a list of every system that needed to exist in our organization—things from how we hired and interviewed people, to how a service got planned, to how the truck was loaded. Next, we wrote them down.

It took us months and months and many meetings, but eventually, we wrote down every system in our church. We began to implement these systems, and do things the same way. It revolutionized the day-to-day operations of our church. People problems seemed to go away, because our people knew what we expected of them. Volunteers knew what they were responsible for and who to call in case they needed something. Meetings took shape because we knew the goal and the desired result.

My journey, and the lessons I learned in the process, is one of the reasons I’m doing this free webinar TODAY at 1pm EDT.  I’d love for you to join me.


How to Create Systems that Lead to Sustainable Church Growth

Today and tomorrow, I’ve decided to post excellent blog posts from my friend, Michael Lukaszewski. I also want to encourage you to check out his free webinar tomorrow. See details at the bottom. Here’s his blog post:

In church world, most of us rely on short term tactics to grow and bust through issues.

Giving is a little behind, so the preacher talks about money.  That’s a responsive tactic.

They need some more volunteers in the children’s ministry.  Time to pull out the Acts 6 sermon or the VBS video.  That’s a tactic.

Attendance is flat.  Time to strap the worship leader into a crane overnight to see if the local news will pick up the story.  That’s a tactic.

We spend a lot of our time pulling the trigger on tactics, but what we really need to create is a strategy.  We spend a lot of time doing stuff, but what we really need to create is a system.

Marketing will help you attract a big crowd on Easter Sunday.  But good systems will help you connect some of them into the life of the church.  Hype will get you some publicity in the local news and on the church leadership blogs, but systems will help you build an enduring organization that truly makes a difference in your community.

Short spikes in giving and attendance don’t do much for organizational growth.  The here today/gone tomorrow kind of ministry doesn’t bring about lasting change.  Those moments are addicting, but they are not sustainable.  You don’t have enough worship leaders to sit in the crane.

What you need is sustainable church growth – the kind that comes from having guests stick on a weekly basis.  I’m talking about the healthy kind of growth, not manufactured activity that comes from hype.

At the end of this post, I’m going to give you three ways to create healthy systems that lead to this kind of growth, but before that, let’s talk about the problems.

The Real Reason Your Church Isn’t Growing

It’s probably not because of people.  It’s easy to look around and say, “If I could just hire some administrative help,” or “if we just had someone who focused on the community all the time” or “If all Jimmy ever did was work with teenagers,” then we would break this barrier.  The problem with that superhero kind of thinking is it’s just not true.  More people thrown at your problems will not solve the issue.

It’s probably not because of space.  I’ve seen so many church leaders become infatuated with building a new building, limiting their vision to bricks and 2x4s.  Space probably isn’t your issue.

There’s a good chance you aren’t experiencing sustainable growth due to the lack of systems.  I bet that’s what I would find if I looked under the hood.

Creating healthy systems takes work and time.  Yes, there are some things you can do to jump start the process, but if you are visionary leader, this is not going to be fun.

But if you’re a visionary leader, turn some of that vision on yourself.  You tell other people all the time they have to kept he end in mind if the want to reach their goal.  It’s time to preach that message to yourself

How to create healthy systems

1.  Do a real inventory.

Look around your church and talk about your strengths and weakness.  But if you want to improve, you have to confront the brutal facts.  You need to give people the freedom to talk about what’s not good.  I’ve seen a lot of churches where the thing that needs to improve is the preaching, but nobody will tell that to the preacher.

There are a lot of great things happening in your church, but you’ve got to be honest about what’s really hurting you.

2.  Get outside help.

I know there is some good advice on but I don’t recommend performing surgery on yourself.  There are times when you need the services of a professional.

Professional help isn’t a waste of money – it will keep you out of the weeds.  The person who does my taxes actually saves me money.  The counselor you see is cheaper than a divorce lawyer.  And the church consultant you hire will help you identify and solve the real problems.

3.  Solve one thing at a time.

The biggest mistake I see churches make in the area of creating healthy systems is doing too much too fast.  There are seven different systems in the church, and if they all need improvement, you can’t do it all at once.  You’ve got to prioritize.

And if you can’t prioritize, just pick.

Go to work on how you follow up with guests.  Create a service planning system.  Or build out an annual money plan.  But don’t do all of them at one time.  You know exactly what will happen – you will execute minor improvements and nothing will really get better.

Take six months or more to work on one thing, and you’ll see a big improvement.  Only when everyone (not just the visionary leader) says it’s good should you move on to the next one.

I’m hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, July 23 on this very subject.  In the 55-minute webinar, I’m going to go more in dept on how to create systems and give you some ideas for installing them in your church.  Sign up here.

Freedom is Never Free, But This Resource Is!


Today I celebrate the 4th of July with friends and family, cookout and fireworks, laughter and smiles, but I remember those who sacrificed for our freedom and I give thanks. Enjoy the holiday and remember to give thanks.

*** I want to tell you about a FREE resource. As you know, most churches in North America are 200 people or less. Earlier this week I did an interview/podcast with the guys from I’d love for you to listen to it and share it. You can check it out HERE.

Don’t Miss Out on Catalyst Atlanta

Catalyst Known - October 2-4, 2013 Atlanta, Georgia
Exclusive Offer for Bloggers!
You are invited to attend the Catalyst Conference on October 2-4, 2013 in Atlanta. A one-of-a-kind gathering for leaders like you!
Catalyst is more than a conference – its a movement founded in the hearts of Next Generation Leaders who are impacting their world. Join us for a three-day leadership encounter filled with powerful teaching, dynamic voices, awe-inspiring worship, unmatched creativity, and impactful stories of the Gospel story being lived out.
Register online using rate code BLOG or by phone at 888.334.6569.
Visit the Catalyst site for more details and information. We look forward to seeing you there!

We know you love FREE STUFF - Go to the site - Get the goods
Like Us on FacebookFollow Us on Twitter
Being Comes Before Doing - For what we do is always determined by who we are

Back at Moody Bible

MB - Pastor's Conference 2013

This week I returned to Chicago to speak at the Moody Bible Pastors Conference for the 7th time. It’s always an honor to speak at Moody. This year I spoke to a packed out room (standing room only) of pastors that came to hear me teach on my book “Church Leadership 101.” This was the first time that I spoke live on my book. It went very well and I feel I was able to really pour into these pastors from around the world.

The big thing I challenged my classes was to be a full-time disciple, as well as a full-time pastor. We had some great discussion and I really enjoyed meeting these men of God. My eBook, that I taught from, has now been downloaded over 25,000 times and can be used to take your team through.

While I was in Chicago, I did a podcast interview about my book with Dr. Matthew Smith from Los Angeles. You can listen to the interview HERE.

Headed Up North – O Canada!

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 2.17.59 PM

I’m flying to Toronto today and I’ll be the Keynote speaker tomorrow night at the Reconnect Conference in Ontario, Canada. I’m taking my worship pastor, Matt Rector, with me and we’ll get to tag team. I’m having him do one of our songs and video tracks live with the house band during my talk. I’m also incorporating some videos that we’ve created at my church into my talk. I’ll be speaking on how to leverage technology for ministry and the “Why?” behind tech. I can’t wait to meet my Canadian friends and see what God does through this conference! This begins a solid month of busyness for me and traveling and speaking. To see my schedule go HERE.