Archives For Greg’s Favorites

Strange-Leadership-book-cover-high-res-677x1024I have a brand new book that releases worldwide on Tuesday, April 29th, but we are asking as many as will to pre-order it today. I’ve been traveling, teaching and researching the subject of innovation in a Biblical context for the past 6 years. The result of this work is this new book entitled  Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

Some friends came up with the idea to have a Strange Leadership Pre-Release Party for him today. Greg will be doing special promotional and pre-release stuff all day today, including an interview and live Google Hangout with CMM Featured Writer Jason Curlee at 11am CST and then Greg will be a guest on DJ Chuang’s Social Media Church Podcast at 4pm CST.

About the book:

Are you a leader in a Christian organization? Is your church, ministry, or business lacking innovation? Perhaps you’re experienced in trying new things and moving in new ways, but you haven’t ever tried anything strange. Truly innovative leaders are often considered strange. Don’t settle for everyday leadership; immerse yourself in Strange Leadership!

Greg gives 40 different ways the Bible teaches us to be strange leaders. Greg pulls from Scripture to illuminate these concepts and, from the words and writings of other leaders, to drive them home. Strange Leadership is practically an encyclopedia on the subject of innovation.

Here’s what some key leaders are saying about the book:

Innovation is imperative in today’s leadership culture. Strange Leadership reminds us all that innovation is about doing a whole new thing, that ultimately flows from God, the Chief Innovator. Thanks Greg for pointing us back to our true source for innovation and inspiration. - Brad Lomenick, President and Key Visionary of Catalyst and Author of The Catalyst Leader

Strange Leadership provides leadership help to teach you how innovation can come about in your life and organization by keeping God at the center and will equip you with practical thoughts to lead with integrity. - Pete Wilson, Senior Pastor of Cross Point Church and Author of Plan B and Let Hope In

To be effective, church leaders must be open to innovation. We have to be willing to allow something new to happen in our churches as we seek God’s leading; we have to stay on the cutting edge, so we can be relevant in the world we are trying to reach. One of the best ways to stay innovative is to listen to and learn from those who model biblical innovation every day, like my friend Greg Atkinson. - Nelson Searcy, Founder and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, Author and Founder of ChurchLeaderInsights.com

Because leadership in Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom is so different and distinct from the world, it is “strange leadership.” In his book, Greg offers practical and helpful thoughts on leading others as one under the rule of God. - Eric Geiger, Author and Vice President LifeWay Christian Resources

Strange Leadership is an engrossing and enchanting collection of probes into the emerging field of innovation studies. It is filled with firecrackers, and sometimes even fireworks. - Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor (Drew University, George Fox University), Chief Contributor to sermons.com

It’s not a coincidence that God chose to introduce himself in the first verse of the Bible as a “Creator.”  I believe God puts a far higher value on creativity and innovation than most people believe.  That’s why I’m thrilled with Greg Atkinson’s new book.  It’s a wake up call to the Church and a powerful reminder that change is here whether we’re ready or not, and whether we like it or not.  Leaders – dismiss this book at your peril.  - Phil Cooke, Ph.D. – Filmmaker, Media Consultant, and author of Unique:  Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media

What’s Should You Do?

To find out more about the book and/or to order your copy today, go HERE. Your support of my ministry and this new book project are a great encouragement to my ministry to church leaders around the world. There is a free downloadable team discussion guide on the book website. We encourage you to order multiple copies for your whole team and go through it with them. Innovation is possible and you might just find that you don’t mind being called a “Strange Leader.”

*** I want to encourage you to connect with me and the book online:

  • Follow @StrangeLeader on Twitter HERE.
  • Follow @GregAtkinson on Twitter HERE.
  • “Like”  the book and my author page on Facebook HERE and keep up with my writing, work and ministry to the Church.
  • Be sure to check out my first video podcast about the book on the Pastor Fury Podcast. Go here to check it out: http://armansheffey.com/iTunes 
  • Join our Thunderclap campaign to get the word out about the book’s official release date (April 29th). It will take you less than 5 minutes to help me out. Go HERE.

Thanks for your support!

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This Tuesday, April 15th (Tax Day), some friends of mine are throwing a Pre-Release Party for my new book Strange Leadership. We’ll be doing some fun stuff, giving away cool stuff and I’ll be a guest on a couple of live podcasts talking with church leaders about the book. I don’t want you to miss out on a thing, so go HERE to join the Pre-Release Party. Join in the fun and thanks for your support!

To read more details about the book and look around the book website, go here: StrangeLeadership.com

Monday, be sure to check out my first video podcast about the book on the Pastor Fury Podcast. Go here to check it out: http://armansheffey.com/iTunes 

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The following is a book excerpt from my friend, Bo Lane’s new book Why Pastors Quit. Read on…

As we were driving home the other day, my wife, Melissa, made a passing comment that caused me to reflect on my time as a pastor. She said, “God called you to be a pastor.” Before I thought twice, I blurted out a response: “But did He really?”

Melissa leaned back, as if God was about to strike our car with lightening and send me down to a fiery pit of eternal damnation. I smiled.

“Maybe God make a mistake,” I said, “or maybe I was just listening to all the wrong voices.”

Growing up, I was a typical church kid. I said all the right things. I listened to all the sermons. I went to all the classes and volunteered wherever I was needed most. I joined the worship team at the age of twelve and was highly active in our small, but dedicated, youth group.

But on the inside, regardless of my involvement, nothing much was happening – nothing was really connecting deep within me so, I faked it. For quite some time, actually. And I was pretty good at faking it too. Or so I thought.

I wanted people to think that I was a good kid who had a good relationship with Jesus. But that wasn’t the case at all. I was a self-centered young man who cared more about what people thought of me than what God thought of me. I cared more about disappointing others than I cared about disappointing God.

But eventually (and thankfully) there came a time when the inner me and the external me collided. I was faced with a question: “Who are you living for?”

At the age of seventeen, sitting on the edge of my bed, I made the decision to follow Jesus and devote the entirety of my life to him. I made the decision to drop the hoax and start my own journey toward Jesus. From that moment on, I was like the Cookie Monster, trying to devour as much as I could as fast as I could.

And, for the first time in my life, I cared about Jesus.

Around that same time, I found myself in a unique situation. Within the course of two months, four different people approached me, at completely random times, with these words: “I feel God is calling you to be a pastor.”

One of those times in particular came when a guest – a pastor of a church in Wyoming – was visiting our church. During the middle of his message, he stopped, turned to where I was sitting, looked directly at me and echoed those same words: “Son, God is calling you to be a pastor.”

Right in the middle of his sermon. In a room full of people. He stopped and turned and looked at me and called me out. And that was it.

I became a pastor.

Long story short, my journey as a pastor had quite a few ups and downs. I was employed as an associate pastor for a number of years, working in churches throughout Oregon, Iowa, and California. Although there were many aspects of serving in full-time ministry that I loved, there were more things that happened along the way that made a negative impact on both myself and my family. After I resigned from the pastorate, it took several years of forgiving and getting plugged in to a healthy church before I really began to heal from the hurt.

A few years later I found myself working in the IT department at a local medical clinic. I remember a co- worker coming to me and asking if I wouldn’t mind talking and praying for her friend who was going through a challenging time. I was far from the pulpit, again I’d left full-time ministry a few years prior to this, and far from giving this lady the advice I thought she deserved.

Or so I felt.

As I talked and prayed with this lady, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whys behind leaving the ministry. The whys – not just for me but for the countless pastors who resign or are handed their pink slips – are quite shocking.

It’s true that some pastors fall into temptation and yet others simply feel it’s their time to call it quits. But often it goes much deeper than that.

And the surveys, one I found particularly interesting, reveal some stunning stats:

Most pastors are overworked.

Ninety percent of pastors report working between 55 to 75 hours per week and 50% feel unable to meet the demands of the job.

And 70% of pastors feel grossly underpaid.

Most pastors feel unprepared.

Ninety percent feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands and 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they began.

Many pastors struggle with depression and discouragement.

Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression and 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

Wait, this is huge. Let’s pause here for a moment.

This means that half of the 1,700 or so pastors who leave the ministry each month have no other way of making a living. Their education and experience is wrapped up solely in the work of the ministry.

So, not only do pastors struggle with their choice to leave ministry, they have to worry about how they are going to feed their families.

Speaking of families, most pastor’s families are negatively impacted.

Eighty percent believe pastoral ministry has negatively affected their families. Equally, eighty percent of spouses feel the pastor is overworked and feel left out and under- appreciated by church members.

Many pastors are lonely.

Seventy percent do not have someone they consider a close friend and 40% report serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month.

And then there is this:

Fifty percent of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. One out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form. And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close.

Unfortunately, the statistics speak for themselves.

Working in ministry, whether you’re a full-time pastor or a lay minister balancing a job and a church, can be challenging and overwhelming. Families suffer and discouragement and depression – amongst a gamut of other things – runs like a river in the lives of those who sacrifice their own life to the cause of the church.

After I left the pastorate I was lonely and frustrated. I had given many years of my life to something I felt abandoned me. I questioned for many years the call of God on my life. Even today, some seven years after resigning I still have many questions that have gone unanswered. Maybe I was never actually called to be a pastor. Maybe God had a different plan for my life. Maybe God got it wrong. Or maybe I got it wrong.

Maybe we’ve all got it wrong.

Maybe it’s just our way of responding to an emotional connection we’ve made with Jesus along the way. Maybe it’s an obligation. Maybe it’s our response to what others have felt for us.

Maybe God calls us to be disciples and then calls us to holiness. Maybe that’s it. Maybe He doesn’t call us at all. Maybe He’s just waiting for us to decide.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

I’m not sure this sort of death, sacrificing our lives for the sake of the pastorate, is what he was referring to.

 

BIO: Bo Lane is the founder of ExPastors.com and the author of Why Pastors Quit. He is married to Melissa and they have two beautiful children, Benjamin and Bella.

FaithVillage CLE interview

By Blake Atwood

Source: FaithVillage.com

Greg Atkinson’s Twitter bio neatly summarizes the many ministry hats he’s worn over the last 20 years: “Greg is a servant of Christ, husband, father, pastor, author, speaker and consultant.”

In those two decades, he’s learned much about what it means to be a church leader. He’s now taken those lessons and has distilled them into Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know.

For an opportunity to win a print copy of Greg’s book, comment on this article with something you think is a defining characteristic of a church leader.

FaithVillage spoke with Greg about his book, one that would be a welcome addition to any pastor’s library.

Why did you write Church Leadership Essentials? What makes it unique compared to the many church leadership books already on the market?

I wrote Church Leadership Essentials because, after speaking at numerous conferences over the last 14 years, I’ve seen that many pastors and church leaders were not properly and practically prepared for real ministry in Bible college or seminary. This is a leadership book that is specifically geared toward the church and ministry in general.

As my former boss and pastor Pete Briscoe once said, “The world for which we were trained no longer exists.”

Who’s the ideal audience for Church Leadership Essentials?

The audience is pastors and church leaders of all types. Whether you’re full-time, part-time, bi-vocational or volunteer, there is a nugget of wisdom or two in the book for you, which is full of leadership lessons and principles I’ve learned over two decades of ministry.

What chapter in Church Leadership Essentials is your favorite? Why?

My favorite chapter is the last chapter. It is a look back on 20 years in ministry. I share my heart and reveal what God has taught me as I look back over the last two decades. It’s close to my heart because I share that God uses weak, broken, messed up people for His glory.

Church Leadership Essentials is a direct result of your blogging. Can you recall why you started blogging in the first place?

In the summer of 2006, my friend Don Chapman of WorshipIdeas.com was visiting me in Dallas. I was driving to Oklahoma City to speak at a conference and Don came with me. It was about a three-hour drive and I started sharing some ideas, resources and new companies that I had come across. Don directly and boldly said, “Dude, you have got to start blogging. Church leaders would really benefit from what you’re sharing with me.”

That night Don went online to GoDaddy and bought the domain name: ChurchVideoIdeas.com and said, “Here you go. Now get to blogging!” I started a cheesy-looking WordPress blog and the rest is history. Thanks to my great Charter Sponsors, I was able to give my blog a face-lift. It’s been through several design changes over the years.

The “why” is simple. I have a heart for the Church (capital “C”). My heart and passion is for the Kingdom and equipping Church leaders — that’s why I write, that’s why I consult, that’s why I speak at conferences. I love Christ’s Bride and want to be a friend, helper, encourager and equipper to Church leaders around the world.

Praise God, people actually care what I have to say. Almost every day I receive an email from a church leader asking me a question. Many of you reading this who have sent me an email hopefully have seen that I try to answer your email promptly and to the best of my knowledge. I wrote this book to answer many of the problems and scenarios that I’ve seen or heard of all too often from leaders around the world.

Do you think all pastors should blog? Why or why not?

Good question. I’ve taught on this in the past and tried to answer it numerous times. I used to just simply say, “Yes.” Now my answer has evolved and I don’t think blogging is a good fit for every pastor.

One, to be a good blogger, you have to have something to say and you have to blog regularly and consistently. Lots of pastors and church leaders have started blogs with the best intentions, and then I check on them months later and their last post was weeks or months ago. That’s a sure-fire way to lose an audience and momentum. But, if you can commit the time and you have something original, useful, practical and insightful to say, I say, “Go for it!”

Aside from the Bible and your book, what other five church leadership books should every pastor have in their library?

You’re heavily involved in online ministry, and you have been for quite some time. Why is it important for church leaders to be involved in online ministry, even if it’s only through one online outlet?

Being involved in online ministry (social media especially) is essential for communication with our congregations now. We cover this a ton at Christian Media Magazine where I’m Editor. I believe that pastors and church leaders should definitely be on Facebook (that’s why I wrote the Foreword to Facebook for Pastors).

Being on Facebook is a way to be reachable, approachable and let your people see that you’re a normal, regular guy or gal. It breaks down the barrier between the pulpit and the pew. If you’re going to your kid’s recital or ballgame or on a date with your spouse, share it on Facebook and allow your people to see you outside of the guy that delivers the sermon each week.

I use Twitter (@GregAtkinson) mainly to learn from, communicate with and share with peers and professionals in ministry. If you are to be a life-long learner (which I feel strongly about), you can learn a ton by being active and engaged on Twitter.

Now, consider adding Greg’s book “Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know” to your church leader library, check out his blog at GregAtkinson.com and read more about the book at ChurchLeadershipEssentials.com.

Comment below with one defining characteristic you think every church leader should have, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a print copy of Greg’s book.

Buy Now

podcast

One thing I write about in my books and on my blog is that leaders are learners. One way that I continue to learn is through conferences, though there are only so many I can attend each year. Another (and cheaper) way that I continue to learn are through podcasts. Here is a list of my Top 5 leadership podcasts (in no particular order) that I listen to for personal and professional growth.

UNSEMINARY podcastunSeminary Podcast with Rich Birch 

Are you looking for practical ministry help to drive your ministry further … faster? Have a sinking feeling that your ministry training didn’t prepare you for the real world? Hey … you’re not alone! Join thousands of others in pursuit of stuff they wish they taught in seminary. Published every Thursday the goal of the unSeminary podcast is to be an encouragement to Pastors and Church Leaders with practical help you can apply to your ministry right away.

Andy Stanley podcastAndy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Welcome to the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, a conversation designed to help leaders go further, faster. Andy Stanley is a pastor, communicator, author, and the founder of North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia. For additional information, visit andystanley.com.

Catalyst podcastCatalyst Podcast 

The Catalyst Podcast delivers practical leadership and cultural insights through in-depth interviews with renowned leaders, sought after speakers and best-selling authors. Additionally, each episode features the profile of a Next Generation Leader who is uniquely and courageously engaging culture in their community.

Perry Noble podcastPerry Noble Leadership Podcast

Perry Noble is the Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in South Carolina. NewSpring began as a group of fifteen people meeting in a living room and has grown to more than 25,000 weekly attenders at 8 locations across the state. Perry will be the first to say that there’s no secret formula for being a successful leader, but there is a PERFECT example: Jesus Christ. This podcast is for those who are ready to be challenged in their faith and stretched as leaders and for those willing to do whatever it takes to be more like Jesus.

Rainer podcastRainer on Leadership

Thom Rainer is the President and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources and he has a great podcast for all those in church leadership. Very informative and encouraging – this podcast is a go-to resource for pastors.

 

What are your favorite podcasts right now?

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Two of my songwriting and worship leading heroes have come together to create a great new worship song that is perfect for Easter. I hope you’ll check it out. Here are the lyrics:

He Is Risen

By Paul Baloche & Graham Kendrick

Early morning break of dawn
Stumbling to the tomb
Standing awestruck wondering who
Rolled away the stone
And as the sun came up
Amazed they looked inside
A voice, an angel clothed in light
Don’t be afraid, He is alive!

He is risen 
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Christ is risen
Let the whole world sing
Christ is risen 
Christ is risen from the dead

Sing, with all creation sing
Of a world made new
In His life we too may live
Bursting from the tomb
And looking up we see
Our King enthroned on high
His wounds of love now glorified
Rejoice, for soon He’ll burst the skies

 

Copyright © 2013 Thankyou Music & Integrity Worship Music/Leadworship Songs

CCLI Number: 6606369

Watch Paul lead the song live:

What songs are you planning to use this Easter at your church?

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Many people don’t realize that I was a worship leader for 12 years and have been involved in worship ministry in some way for the last twenty-plus years. I also have a degree in music/worship. One thing I love doing is finding new songs and sharing them with friends in ministry. With my platform via my blog and as the Editor of Christian Media Magazine, I get to share with a large audience.

So here you go: The song that I predict will be heard all around the world this year on Easter. I stumbled across this live video of Kari Jobe singing “Forever” with Brian Johnson and Bethel Live some time ago. I wanted to introduce you to it today because Kari Jobe’s new single will be available on iTunes tomorrow 2/18/14. I’ve always been a big fan of Kari Jobe and the spirit in which she leads worship. I encourage you to purchase this song and help it go straight to #1. “Now death where is your sting?”

Want to experience like I first did? Watch this video:

*** Get the chord chart HERE

*** You can download the song from iTunes HERE.

*** Also released is this song on MultiTracks.com. Get your tracks for this song HERE.

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Last year, I wrote a long piece or short ebook on leading yourself. I’m going to roll it out, piece by piece, over the next couple of weeks on my blog. This has never been published before. So here we go. Here’s the eighth piece:

Know Your Craft


Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy. – Psalm 33:3

Don’t just show up to work, bring your A-game. God wants you to constantly grow in your skill set and become a better leader, designer, communicator and artist.

Go to conferences, take some night or online classes. Go back to school and get your degree or Masters. Sharpen your skills. Leaders are learners and leaders are readers. What books are you reading? Who are you watching that’s years down the road from in their experience and platform? Who are your peers in ministry that you stay in touch with, share ideas with and dream together with?

Where do you get inspiration? Do you think you’re the best that ever was or do you look at what other churches are doing and learn from them? Constantly see what other systems, practices, procedures, promotions (Christmas, Easter, etc.) are being used around the country and allow them to shape your ministry.

Leading Yourself.jpg

Last year, I wrote a long piece or short ebook on leading yourself. I’m going to roll it out, piece by piece, over the next couple of weeks on my blog. This has never been published before. So here we go. Here’s the seventh piece:

Know Where You’re Headed
Set goals. Know where your church currently is and where they need to go. If you’re a church of 200, look at churches of 500 and get ideas for what your communication ministry could be. If you’re a church of 2000, look at churches 5000 or more in attendance to get ideas and inspiration.

Be in constant communication with your supervisor and your senior pastor to know their goals for the organization, where they feel you can help them accomplish the vision and mission of the church, and set appropriate goals to accomplish these tasks and projects.

Leading Yourself.jpg

Last year, I wrote a long piece or short ebook on leading yourself. I’m going to roll it out, piece by piece, over the next couple of weeks on my blog. This has never been published before. So here we go. Here’s the sixth piece:

Know Where You’re Strong
Know your strengths (take the StrengthFinder2.0 test and study the way you’re wired) and seek to turn your areas of 7 and 8’s into 9’s and 10’s. Mentor others and share what you’ve learned and how you have been shaped throughout your ministry career.

Know Where You’re Weak
Based off of your gifting and areas of strength, come to know your blindside and areas of weakness. Seek out a mentor to coach and train you and help you grow in your areas of weakness. You won’t be able to turn an area of 1 or 3 into a 9 or 10, but you can grow to a 3 or 5 and become more competent all around. Knowing your weaknesses also allows you to compensate and surround yourself with others (volunteer and/or paid staff) that can help you accomplish a task, project or run a ministry.