Archives For Greg’s Favorites


Today, September 22nd, I turn 40 years old, and this past year God has been wrecking me and leading me to what Henry Blackaby calls a “crisis of belief.” One of Blackaby’s “Seven Realities” in Experiencing God is:

“God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.”

For the past year, I’ve been listening to and sitting under the teaching of my pastor and friend Derwin Gray. One of Pastor Derwin’s key themes that he weaves into most of his teaching is justification. Justification is the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God. Because of what Christ has done, we are justified, we are forgiven, we are free, we are as righteous as Jesus Himself.

This may not be news to you, but over the last year, this has taken its toll on me. God has used this message to open my eyes to pride in my life and the sin of self-righteousness. If you’ve ever heard Derwin preach, you may see him cry or get emotional. Once, when traveling with him, I asked him, “What do you do to keep your heart so tender?” He replied, “I think of what Jesus has done for me.”

Again, this may not seem like much to you, but it was revelational to me. You see, I grew up in a strong Christian family (which I’ve taken for granted) and I thought because I became a follower of Christ at a young age (before I had gotten into too much trouble) that I didn’t have a good testimony. This, too, is self-righteousness and pride – and it is a sin.

Hear me: EVERY salvation is a miracle.

This past Sunday, Pastor Derwin preached what I believe is the most powerful sermon I’ve ever heard. You can view or listen to it HERE. There was a strong call to repent in this sermon and I found myself repenting all throughout it. Repenting for pride, repenting for self-righteousness, repenting for thinking I didn’t have a testimony.

At one point in the sermon, Derwin said something about not understanding Christ-followers that don’t wake up every day in awe and amazement of what God has done in their life. THIS, my friends, is my midlife crisis. This is what has to change in my life going forward for the second-half of my life.

May I never take for granted again what Jesus has done for me. May I daily reflect on His love, His grace, His mercy, His sacrifice, His forgiveness, His justification. May I go forward from this day in awe and wonder of Christ and all that He’s done in my life. The truth is, friends, I DO have a testimony! I have experienced amazing grace. I just need to remember it and let it lead me to worship.

So, on my 40th birthday, I proclaim my love for Christ and my gratefulness that He would rescue a sinner like me. I pray God would lead you to a place of repentance and thankfulness, too. Be blessed today, friends.


Sunday, I watched and pulled for my beloved Dallas Cowboys. Maybe you’ve heard of the way the game ended. If you missed it, let me catch you up to speed. The Dallas Cowboys played the Green Bay Packers (in Green Bay) for a chance to go to the NFC Championship. It was a tough and close game all the way to the very end.

Near the end of the fourth quarter, with Dallas needing a touchdown to take the lead and win the game, the Cowboys did something unthinkable. It was 4th Down and 2 yards to go, and instead of running the ball or throwing a quick pass to get the short 2 yards, the Cowboys instead opted to throw a deep ball down the sideline from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant for a game-winning touchdown. Now keep in mind, they only needed 2 yards and then they could have continued to drive down the field.

Here’s where risk comes into play and as I state in my book Strange Leadership, risk is an essential part of innovation. The Cowboys did something unpredictable and unprecedented. They weren’t just going for the first down as everyone expected. They were going for the kill – the nail in the coffin you might say. Did Dez make the catch? Some say yes. Some say no. It was ruled an incomplete pass though it was a tremendous effort on the part of Romo and Bryant. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs and ended up losing the game.

However, had the catch been ruled a catch (as it was originally called on the field), the Cowboys would have probably won the game and would be headed to Seattle to play in the NFC Championship. Am I upset with my Cowboys? Absolutely not! They made a gutsy call and played to win. I couldn’t be more proud.

That’s life and that’s part of innovation and leadership. In my book, I have a chapter on Exploration and Experimentation. Sometimes you have to try and try again. You fail and get back up. I have a whole chapter titled Progression that covers that concept. The key is to keep playing to win, keep pressing the boundaries and never, EVER give up.

So as you lead, serve, invest, plan and pray, don’t be afraid to risk it all when God prompts you to. And when you fail in life and leadership (because you will), get back up, brush yourself off and get ready for the next thing God calls you to. The Cowboys will be back next year. I pray that you will keep pressing on, too.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV)

When was the last time you took a huge risk? What was the result? When was the last time you failed and how did you respond?


“I have not failed. I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs

“Success is getting up one more time than you fall down.” – Rev. Darrell W. Boswell

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd

“I would rather fail in an attempt at something new and uncharted than safely succeed in a repeat of something I have done.” – A. E. Hotchner


First Sunday in Rock Hill

This past weekend, I officially started on staff at Transformation Church in South Carolina. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am and how God has orchestrated this entire move and my calling to this church. I am blessed to sit under the weekly teaching now of Derwin Gray, who is speaking hope, grace, love, truth and lots of JESUS into my life. I’m grateful to God for this opportunity to serve and be a part of a God-movement. More to come soon!

Stadium Lights

Sunday night I, like many of you, watched Peyton Manning (Quarterback of the Denver Broncos) set an all-time record for most touchdowns in NFL history. As I celebrated his achievement and performance, I reflected on what makes Peyton so special and what we, as pastors, can learn from him.

    1. Passion: Peyton Manning’s passion for the game of football is evident. He loves to play and though he may look serious (with his game face on), he’s having a blast on the field. We, as leaders in the Church, should have passion as well.
      Danger: When being a pastor becomes your identity and you are, as Craig Groeschel once said, “A full-time pastor and a part-time disciple.”
    2. Commitment: Who knows the countless hours Peyton Manning has spent studying film, practicing with his offensive line and receivers, working out and strengthening his arm and body? Peyton is committed to the game of football. He doesn’t do anything halfway. He’s all-in. If you pastor a congregation, you should be committed to that church and to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
      Danger: When you don’t have a life outside the church. You need to be an engaged and committed husband and father. You need to have hobbies. You need to learn to laugh. Don’t take yourself too seriously (read this).
    3. Driven: Any fan of the game can see that Peyton is a driven athlete. He’s extremely competitive and can’t stand to lose. For Peyton, his goal every year is a Super Bowl championship. It’s Super Bowl champs or bust. We, as pastors, need to be driven by the mission of the Church, specifically the Great Commission. We should always be looking to reach more people with the gospel.
      Danger: When we make attendance, budgets and baptism numbers the end all, be all. We have to see people as precious in God’s sight and not targets. Build relationships with people. Don’t use them to increase your metrics. Also be on the alert of becoming or enabling a work-a-holic atmosphere. Keep manageable office hours and don’t neglect your family.
    4. Excellence: Peyton Manning is the poster-child for excellence in the NFL. He holds too many records to list. He excels at everything he does. As leaders, we need to lead with excellence (that’s what my next book is about). We need to show we care about our calling, our career and our churches. Lead courageously. Lead well.
      Danger: When we confuse excellence with perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect church.
    5. Didn’t quit: Peyton injured his neck and could have retired from the game and would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. He didn’t need to ever play again and he could have gone on to other things, but instead he had multiple neck surgeries, went through extensive physical therapy and rehab and worked hard to get back to the game he so desperately loves. He didn’t give up when most would have, like when his team, the Indianapolis Colts, released him and doubted his ability to play at an elite level post-surgery. Too many pastors quit right before a major breakthrough in their ministry. As I have stated in both of my books, I’m a big believer in longterm ministry. I think you need to plant roots in a community and give your life to something significant.
      Danger: When you don’t know when to step down. Too many pastors don’t have a plan for a successful succession. Dr. Gene Getz modeled this for me years ago and has been a hero of mine for a long time. I also encourage you to check out my friend William Vanderbloemen’s new book Next: Pastoral Succession That Works.
    6. High Standards: Peyton expects greatness from himself and his team. For two decades of ministry leadership, I have expected a lot from myself and from others (my staff and volunteers). I don’t think it’s wrong to ask for commitment and excellence from your team.
      Danger: We must be people of grace. We must have grace for ourselves when we fail. We must have grace for others when they let us down.
    7. Character: Peyton Manning is known for being a class-act. He’s a good person on the field and off. He’s not involved in scandals, suspensions or problems with the law (like many other athletes.) As leaders, we need to be men and women of character.
      Danger: When the public self and the private self don’t line up. If you’re an amazing preacher at church, but a horrible husband and father and/or addict at home – you need to repent and seek help. Go to counseling and confide in another pastor that you trust. Pastors need friends they can be real with.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… – Colossians 3:23 (NIV)

What lessons do you think you can learn from an athlete like Peyton Manning?




Where to begin? For the past year, I’ve been speaking, writing, consulting and serving as the Editor of Christian Media Magazine. But as many of you know, my heart is in the local church. In a way that can only be described as a God-thing, God brought me and Pastor Derwin Gray together to talk. I found out they had been praying for a Campus Pastor for their Rock Hill campus and you know I had previously served as a Campus Pastor at a multisite church. I, too, had been praying for a Campus Pastor position. God got us connected and the rest is history.

What you may not know is that Transformation Church is located in my home state of South Carolina, where I grew up and spent the first 24 years of my life. The church is located near the South Carolina/North Carolina line and is considered a suburb of Charlotte, NC. If you looked at a map of where my family and I are moving to, you would see it’s right in the middle of both my wife’s and my families. My wife has sisters in North Carolina. My entire family is in South Carolina and my wife’s parents live in Georgia. This is truly a homecoming and we praise God!

Now let me tell you about why I’m pumped to be a part of the team at Transformation Church. You may not know it, but I’m very picky and waited on God to lead us to the right fit. Here’s the scoop on TC from their website:

Derwin L. Gray is the founding and lead Pastor of Transformation Church, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community with two campuses in South Carolina (Indian Land and Rock Hill), both just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Transformation Church (TC) was recognized as the 2nd fastest-growing church by percentage in America for 2010 by Outreach magazine. In 2011 and 2012, TC was again recognized again as one of the top 100 fastest-growing churches in America.


You may be thinking, “I’ve heard of Derwin Gray.” Maybe you’ve seen the Evangelism Linebacker video? Derwin played in the NFL, where he met Christ. Derwin is also a best-selling author, speaker and champion for diversity and multi-ethnic ministry (which is what his next book is about). If you want to hear some more of his heart and story, listen to THIS message he preached a month ago for Rick Warren at Saddleback.

Greg and Thomas


Why am I passionate about this opportunity? Because it’s a chance to be a part of a God-movement and serve a multi-ethnic church that values diversity. My best friend (Thomas Rose – seen above) for 21 years is black and we have done a lot over the years to try to break down racial walls. When I worshiped at Transformation Church recently, I was moved to tears at both campuses to see the mix of people and races worshiping together. It truly was something to see and I praise God that I will see this regularly soon. I also pray I will never take it for granted as this is not the norm. 90% of churches in America are segregated on Sunday morning. Let’s do something about that! I wrote about this years ago HERE.

To see what the music is like at Transformation Church, watch THIS. To see an amazing day of baptisms and see what God is up to, watch THIS.

What’s next? First, I praise God for how He orchestrated this whole thing. It truly was a God-thing and a story that I’ll share in the future. Also pray for my family and me as we move, sell our house, find a new home, my kids change schools and I start my new role as Campus Pastor at the TC Rock Hill Campus. Pray that God would have His hand on my ministry and we would see many changed lives and much fruit. Pray for my kids as they move and make new friends. Now that you heard what God is doing in the Carolinas through Transformation Church, please pray for Pastor Derwin and the amazing staff that I will be joining. Pray we make much of Jesus. It’s all for His glory and His renown.

I’ll be blogging more in the future about my beginning a new role and settling in. God bless you guys and gals. I thank God!

My best friend, Thomas Rose, is a worship leader in Nashville and also has a band called The Rose Factor. Here is their video of “Oceans” by Hillsong United. Let this arrangement and the graphics that go with it inspire you. Maybe consider adding a click track to the video and using it as a video track at your church? Go for it! Worship God with this beautiful song.

I wrote about The Digital Age last week and gave you a glimpse into one of their rehearsals. Today, I want to share with you the lyric video to their song “Break Every Chain.” May you worship with this today and possibly explore using the video in your own worship setting in the future. Have a great day!

N symbol in Arabic

I’ve been overwhelmed with graphic images of dead children in Iraq and men being crucified in Syria by ISIS. I didn’t ask to see them – they just appeared in my Facebook news feed. I’m at a loss for words. I’ve been losing sleep. Yesterday, God led me to read Hebrews 11, specifically the last part:

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

I’m praying for the persecuted and ask that you join me in prayer. You can also voice your outrage on social media and to your Senator and Congressman. Let’s pray that God would intervene and stop this genocide.

For thoughts on how you and your church can use social media, read THIS article by my friend Jason Ham from the UK. To read why I changed my Facebook profile picture to the one at the top of this post, go HERE.

I’m a fan of The Digital Age (the band). If you don’t know, The Digital Age is the David Crowder Band minus David Crowder. They make amazing music and they are true creatives. Their artistry, creativity and innovation inspires me.

This is a sneak peak into one of their rehearsals where they play and sing the cover song “Oceans” (by Hillsong United). I had never thought of having men sing a female song and I love what they do with it. Take a listen and watch the full video to be inspired today and give you new ideas for how to use this song in  your context.


Eric Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. His previous book is called Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World (also known as Peppermint-Filled Pinatas).

Here’s more on the project from Eric:

We have the capacity for unlimited influence!

According to Jesus, no matter where we come from or what we’ve done or what limitations we may think we have, we actually can become live a transformed life and transform the lives of others. He promises that we can have a level of spiritual influence far beyond what we might imagine. We can bear fruit 30, 60, and even 100 times more than what was sown.

In the parable of the soils, Jesus explained that if we can avoid being like the first three soils, we could have a life that is described as fruitful. In other words, if we can learn to be receptive (hear God’s voice), tenacious (not give up on what we know we should do), and intentional (avoid distractions), we will be who we’ve always wanted to be.

Derived from Jesus’ parable of the soils, A Fruitful Life will help you with the following:

  • Discover your calling.
  • Make decisions using a grid for hearing God’s voice
  • Overcome the most painful moments of life.
  • Make progress in areas where you are most tempted.
  • Experience renewal and bring change to others.


Applying the Scriptures to our life and developing the skills derived from the parable of the soils really is life-changing.

I have seen God do remarkable things in my life, in the lives of others who went through this material in small groups, and in the lives of those who experienced the material in the context of a retreat or sermon series.

When we are spiritually receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive, we are in the right place for God to work in our lives and through our lives.

I think this message is more important now than ever. As a society we’ve moved from hunting to farming to working in factories into what is now called the Information Age. Seth Godin refers to this period as the time for artists to emerge.

I would like to think of this as the Age of Influence. Technology has given us the opportunity to influence people from across the planet the instant we post something online. The world is smaller and our opportunities are larger.

For a free download of the overview, go to A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Be sure to go to the last chapter in the overview to discover how to sign up for a chance to win the entire series.

Check out this video with Eric sharing more on A Fruitful Life:

Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here.