This is good stuff. I especially loved when the dog started barking (that is my life). You just got to laugh!

Church Leadership Essentials paperback

My book Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know is now available in print. The book has done very well as an ebook on Kindle and has 5 star reviews (thank you). Personally, I like to hold a book in my hand and keep it on a shelf in my office. I love collecting books!

Here’s the description from Amazon:

Think of this book as a toolbox full of leadership tools for pastors and other church leaders. Greg Atkinson has the uncanny ability to get to the heart of issues, and offer solutions and resolutions in a practical and meaningful way. He packs 34 key leadership principles into concise but powerful chapters. This book is the vital leadership training that many seminaries failto offer. It can revolutionize your ministry.

Here’s what people are saying about the book:

  • Greg is one of the more thoughtful leaders in the church today. I’ve worked with him personally and found him to be very professional and helpful. He knows church leadership. This is one to put on your bookcase where you can get to it quickly. Great church resource. – Ron Edmondson
  • Whether you’re a lead pastor, a staff member, or serve in leadership in any way in your church, you’ll find Greg’s book dripping with practical leadership advice. This is a book you’ll come back to over and over. I know I will! – Ben Reed
  • Greg provides a easy to digest, highly insightful and provocative guide to leadership that you can tell is born out of experience and revelation. I haven’t seen anyone approach the topic in the way that Greg has and he offers a unique voice that I find very refreshing and unique. – Rex Miller
  • Greg Atkinson has written a very helpful book that offers us a biblically sound spiritual approach to innovation and leadership. I love the short and quickly accessible chapters — each one is packed with insights that will stand the test of time. I believe you will find this book to be a fresh, relevant and practical read. - Dan Reiland
  • Greg’s wealth of experience makes this a must-have-book for anyone working in a church! His writing style is easy to keep up with and very enjoyable. Buy this book now and become a better Christian leader! - Alan Danielson
  • Greg’s honesty and practical insights make this book an essential for every leader’s library. Church Leadership Essentials is an easy read, but the topics are anything but easy and come from a lifetime of dedication to making The Church & Her leader’s great. This book is written from the perspective of been-there-done-that. One can only write a book like this when they have had the varied background of experiences that a Greg Atkinson has had. There’s no Ghost Writer here. This is one leader walking ahead of the rest of us giving us a path to follow. So much of Church Leadership is really really hard. This book seeks to make the easy stuff easy, and to admit what it takes to do the rest of it.  - Dave Miller
*** I wrote this book for church leaders that went to school, but weren’t prepared for real ministry or church leaders that never got to attend Bible college or seminary and are learning on the fly. This is a book full of leadership lessons that they don’t teach you in school. My prayer is that you’ll use this with your team. I encourage you to buy one for each of your team members and use the book as a starting place for team discussion. Go HERE to get the book. God bless you as you serve.

Regardless of who  you’re pulling for in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, this is pretty cool. I don’t know if you’ve heard the incredible story of Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, who is the first legally deaf offensive player in NFL history, but you should.

Now a Duracell ad featuring Coleman and his inspiring story has gone viral … and it’s great.

Check out this video. How driven are you?

Powerful video of a creative way awareness was brought to thousands at a national sporting event in Atlanta, GA on the weekend of April 6th, 2013. Visit enditmovement.com for more details on how you can be in it to END IT. #enditmovement

Watch this video of Rich Birch interviewing me for the unSeminary Podcast on ways to create an irresistible church in 2014. We based this conversation around a chapter of my book “Church Leadership Essentials“. Listen in on this episode for some practical insights on things you could improve at your church in the coming weeks and months.

I thought this commercial was encouraging and inspiring. It reminded me about the chapter in my upcoming book on progression. In the chapter I talk about not being afraid to fail and continuing to try after failure. Enjoy this video.

“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again…” – Proverbs 24:16 NASB

Candlestick Park

The following is a guest post from Life Letter Cafe blog.

Candlestick Park was opened in the Spring of 1960, in the vicinity of the Hunter’s Point shipyards of San Francisco . .

It has been home primarily to the San Francisco Giants and 49ers over most of that fifty-three year span of time. When 49er linebacker NaVorro Bowman executed what is now called “The Pick at the Stick” this last Monday evening, sealing a victory over the hapless Atlanta Falcons, fans and historians began to bid farewell to the outdated, yet iconic stadium which will be remembered not so much for it’s luster or immediate location, but for the sports memories that unfolded in it’s windy and often brutally cold confines.

Moments of anguish?

There have been plenty. Few will ever forgive Bobby Richardson for catching Willie McCovey’s liner to win the World Series on October 19th, 1962. The mild-mannered pitcher Juan Marichal went after Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro with his bat on August 22, 1965 . . an incident he profoundly regrets. Perhaps the most bitter pill ever swallowed at the “Stick” was on July 29th, 1990 when Giants starter Scott Garrelts was denied a no-hitter with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth by the “clutch” hitting of Paul O’Neil of the Cincinnati Reds.

Moments of exhilaration?

Too many to recall in this post, but who could forget April 12th, 1993 when Barry Bonds homered on the first pitch in his first home at bat as a Giant against the Florida Marlins? Or how about January 5th, 2003 when the 49ers came back from 24 points downs to defeat New York football Giants 39-38 in a thrilling win led by Jeff Garcia that is to this day regarded as the loudest game in 49er history. Little more needs to be said than Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and “The Catch” to upend the football juggernaut Dallas Cowboys (Tom Landry, Roger Staubach) on Jan 10th 1982. Cubs fans will never forgive Will “The Thrill” Clark who single-handedly beat them for the National League pennant in October, 1989.

While the act of sports competition holds little eternal significance in and of itself, Candlestick Park’s unique history offers valuable leadership lessons for pastors . . here are the first 6 that quickly come to mind:

  1. The Wind: Never underestimate your single greatest threat to success

    Though studies were done on the best way to configure Candlestick on the property, the “boomerang-shaped” rim on the top of the stadium did little if anything to divert howling gusts that would often change direction multiple times in one game, forcing untold number of missed fly balls, pop-ups, field goals and pass attempts. If taken seriously, stadium architects would have insisted on a dome . . or a different location. Today’s pastor is afforded unparalleled access to technology and proven organizational systems and processes that fall dangerously short on what can only be accomplished through a church body desperate to access the Lord’s power through prayer. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

  2. The 1989 Loma Prieta World Series Earthquake: Every leader needs an unseen ally

    Engineers got it right when they refused to build Candlestick on the part of the property that was nearly 100% landfill and instead anchored the foundation to the bedrock at the foot of Bay View Hill.  Major structural failure may have occurred during the 1989 World Series had the stadium been located even just 100 yards further out towards the Bay. Pastor’s cannot exchange critical time alone with God and in personal relationships marked by accountability to mature mentors without risking “ministry collapse” in times of greatest adversity. (Proverbs 27:17)

  3. The 1989 Loma Prieta World Series Earthquake: Your greatest tests will reveal the greatest strengths and weaknesses of your leadership team.

    While location by a windy Bay or a lack of a domed stadium was the “Stick’s” Achilles heel, it’s greatest strength was engineers who resisted shortcuts in design-construction schemes and schedules and went with more costly and time-consuming cutting-edge reinforced concrete technology that kept more than 60,000 people unharmed while bridges and freeways around the Bay were collapsing in the wake of a devastating 7.1 magnitude temblor. While “moves of God” are the end-goal, Pastor’s who start and lead churches on an unrealistically fast development pace will face inevitable implosion when times of greatest challenge occur . . particularly in the area of ill-equipped and spiritually immature staff. (Proverbs 19:2)

  4. Artificial Turf: Shortcuts to excellence will inevitably cut you short

    For more than a decade, Candlestick Park featured artificial turf to address the challenges that can occur when football and baseball teams share the same facility, especially in a damp, cool climate. The result? An accelerated rate of football injuries, baseballs taking ridiculous bounces and turf seams that were . .unseemly. Creativity for church leadership teams is essential but should never cause a pastor to trust more in “gimmicks” (gimmicks that tend to create religious consumers vs. spiritual reproducers) than the power of the gospel in and of itself. (Romans 1:16)

  5. Power Failure – 49ers vs Steelers December 2011: Leaders can and will fail

    The lights indeed went out on a nationally broadcast game between these two storied football franchises. Pastors all fail in little and not so little ways . . the question is whether they create a culture of secrecy or transparency. Those who choose the former are fabricating an illusion that misses out on the ability to equip a congregation with the one essential tool it needs that separates it from the world: grace. Restoration not fabrication should be the full-time work of a church leader. (James 5:16)

  6. Stu Miller Blown Off Pitcher’s Mound – The 1961 All Star Game: Ministry climate is never fair

    Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown off balance by a gust of wind and was charged with a balk in front of a hometown crowd and a national audience. His response? He shrugged it off and stated, “Hey it’s my claim to fame I guess”. Pastor’s in the grip of entitlement who seek to lead a church will inevitably take themselves too seriously and lose sight of the fact that the kingdom is not “built” on a fair weather playing field and that sometimes God’s greatest gains happen in spite of our most embarrassing flops or shortcomings. (2 Corinthians 12:9)


What are your thoughts? CLICK HERE . . to look at the final 6 lessons on leadership afforded by the iconic Candlestick Park!

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The multisite model continues to be a proven and cost-effective vehicle for churches in reaching, serving and engaging more people locally and regionally. Leadership Network reports there are over 5,000 expressions of multisite church across North America with nearly 7 million people attending a multisite church nationwide. As Ed Stetzer concluded in the 2013 annual Outreach Magazine issue of the 100 Largest and Fastest Growing Churches in America “the common denominators of multisite, small groups and community engagement surface throughout 2013.”

The multisite experiment began as a pre-recession band-aid strategy for megachurches that were out of room or restricted by zoning laws. It became the primary way healthy churches accommodated their growth during the recession. Even as the economy improves the multisite model will continue to be the prevailing choice for accommodating and accelerating growth in healthy churches.

As anticipated, we saw in 2013 an increase in multisite mergers, church name-changing, internet “on-line” campuses and international multisite expansion. These trends will continue. Here’s some additional developments emerging among 2014 multisite trends:

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-Megachurches becoming giga-churches. Megachurches are getting bigger because they are no longer limited to one location. LifeChurch.tv based in Oklahoma City is the largest church in America with over 50,000 in attendance across 18 campuses in several states. The most vulnerable churches in America are the large mono-site, super-mega campuses with aging senior pastors.

-Owning multisite locations. Up to now the overwhelming majority of multisite campuses are in rented facilities. Because the multisite model has now moved beyond an experiment to a proven strategy more churches are beginning to buy land to construct new buildings or purchase existing buildings for permanent multisite campuses.

-New rules for church construction. In an increasingly hostile culture towards new church construction the rules have changed for constructing new church buildings. The new church buildings going up today are smaller, multi-purpose, multi-venue, local community-centric and environmentally-friendly buildings.  You can read more about this revolution in church construction on my blog post New Rules for Sacred Space.

-The majority of multisite churches are not maximizing the model. Most of the 5,000+multisite churches are stuck at two or three campuses because they don’t know how or aren’t willing to make the organizational changes necessary to fully benefit from the multisite model. The majority of multisite churches are still functioning like a mono-site church with campuses instead of a church of campuses.   If this describes your church take the Multisite Diagnostic Test to determine how well your church is managing this paradigm shift.

-Multisite churches with four or more campuses. Even though the majority of multisite churches are not fully maximizing the multisite model as previously mentioned, more are growing beyond three campuses. The fourth campus is the “game-changer” that typically forces churches to change their structure which positions them to take full advantage of the model and grow even beyond four campuses. These churches of four or more campuses typically have a full-time multisite director on the lead team, a dedicated campus pastor at the original campus and a well-defined central support system.

-Confusing multisiting with church planting. Though the outcome of church planting and multisiting is the same—new congregations, church plants and multisite campuses are not the same thing.  There are geographic, gifting and governance differences. A lack of clarity and understanding around these differences  causes a lot of unnecessary problems in multisite churches. Some of the most effective multisite churches have also created successful church planting networks because they understand the differences and designed different strategies for them.

-Se habla español (Spanish spoken here). Multisite megachurches are leading the way in producing local congregations that are more economically, racially and ethnically diverse especially within Hispanic communities. These are not the traditional ethnic churches “using our church building” but diverse congregations under the banner of one church in multiple congregations with racially diverse campus pastors on the church staff.

-Multisite Teaching Teams. Whether they utilize video sermons or not, there is a growing desire to develop preaching-teaching teams to strengthen the teaching bench of the church, develop teachers and potential successors while increasing the overall depth and breadth of biblical instruction.

-Requests for Multisite Coaching.  There is a rising chorus for on-going multisite coaching in the month-to-month oversight of a growing multisite church. A coach who can help churches go from two to five, then ten campuses. Someone who can help them avoid the potholes and get better at multisiting. They need a mentor and we got’em at MultiSite Solutions. Find the right one for you by visiting us at Considering a Multisite Mentor?

What do YOU see emerging on the multisite church scene in 2014?

What trend is emerging in your church in 2014?

How will your church be different in 2014?

*** The following was a guest post from Jim Tomberlin

2014

Last night we celebrated with friends and brought the new year in together. This year is different because I don’t know what 2014 holds for me, my family and my career. I pray that God would lead me to the right fit – a church that I can help go to the next level and use my gifts. Pray with me that God would lead, guide, direct and provide in the meantime.

Here’s my annual New Year’s Day resolutions:
1. Read my Bible more and grow closer to God
2. Be a better, more present and godly husband and father
3. Get healthy – work out and eat right
4. Write two more books and release Strange Leadership this Spring
5. Read several more books and continue to grow professionally

- That about does it. Here’s to 2014!

*What are your resolutions, goals and dreams for this New Year?

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2014 is coming upon us. Most people make new year resolutions like joining a gym, going on a diet, etc. I’d like to share 7 simple things you can do to get your new year started off right.

  1. Go on some sort of fast – Priorities and focus are more important at the start of a new year than resolutions that quickly fall by the wayside. You need to participate in some sort of fast from something you love to place your focus on God and make Him your priority. I’ve done short fasts, extended fasts, Daniel Fasts, movie and TV fasts and most recently a technology fast. Since it’s not healthy for me not to eat due to some medicine I take, I recently fasted one month (30 days) from social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+… you name it) and all things technological. I was shocked to see how dependent (in a bad way) that I had become on them. Getting away from technology for a month allowed me to spend more time in Scripture, prayer and with my family. It also gave me a healthy perspective on social media. I found myself wanting to post the silliest things that had no business being on Facebook. When I returned to social media, I had a new purpose and perspective and started using my social media platforms the right way. For some of you, it may be easier to go 30 days without eating than without social media. If that is the case, you have a problem and an intervention is needed. I’m kidding. Sort of.
  2. Get a watch – While I was on my recent fast from social media and technology, I found one thing happening over and over: My iPhone was constantly in my hand. I was attached to it. I realized that I always had it out, in my hand and would look at it during meetings, mealtime and other rude and inappropriate times. I jokingly told my wife, “I just need to get a watch. Then I could keep my phone in my pocket.” Sure enough, while out of town speaking at a conference, I stopped in a shopping mall and bought a watch. Now my lunches, dinners, coffees and meetings are different because I’m not constantly checking my phone and appearing rude to whoever I’m eating or meeting with. Everything is going mobile and we need a healthy boundary and perspective for this technology.
  3. Read a different kind of book – I’ve often said, “Leaders are readers.” To start the new year off right, I want to encourage you to read something completely different and out of your comfort zone. For two decades of ministry I bragged about only reading non-fiction and said I had no time for fiction. Guess what? God opened my eyes that truth and beauty can be found in fiction. I recently watched “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” again and I found myself saying, “Tolkien was a genius and God had His hand on His writing.” God used that eye-opening movie to open my mind to reading books out of my wheelhouse. Maybe you only read Christian or ministry books and need to read a business book. Maybe you need to read a historical book or biography. Whatever may be your case, branch out this year and read something totally different. You’ll be better for it.
  4. Go on a retreat – At the last church I pastored I would go on two different retreats at the start of each year (in January). One was with our church’s Senior Leadership Team. One was with my campus staff. I would put a lot of time and effort prepping for my campus staff retreat. I would think of things that my team needed to address, tackle and discuss. I would be sure to include plenty of social and bonding time as well. We also spent a great deal of time dreaming and talking strategy. There’s a lot of ideas and creative juices flowing at the start of a new year, coming off of the Christmas season and heading towards Easter. January or February is the perfect time to get away and pray, dream, create, plan, play and bond.
  5. Go to a conference – I also try to take key staff to a conference in the early part of the year (pre-Easter). It’s another opportunity to get away, bond and feed your professional side. I’ve often said I’ve learned far more at conferences over the years than I ever did at school. Going to a conference as a team could be just the boost your team needs. You must stay sharp in the ministry world and the new year is the perfect time to fill up your tanks (spiritually, mentally, creatively) and to just all around be inspired. For a list of where I’ll be speaking at in 2014, check HERE. I’d love to see you on the road. For a list of great conferences in 2014, check HERE.
  6. Visit another church – This is my secret that I’ve kept for 20 years of ministry. Whenever I can, however I can, I take any opportunity to visit another church. Maybe I’m on vacation. Maybe I’m out of town at a conference. Maybe I go to a Saturday night service or a Sunday night service. For two decades, every chance I got, I visited other churches. Good and bad. I’ve visited almost all of the churches on the largest church list, as well as the fastest-growing list. I’ve learned what to do and what not to do (I’ve visited some bad churches, too). The key is to see something different than what you’ve grown accustomed to. You see the same church week in and week out, 48 to 50 Sundays a year. You have to be intentional and make it a priority to visit somewhere else and learn what you can. I can not stress enough how important this is.
  7. Set goals – I’m extremely driven and goals are essential to the innovation and strategic leader. It was the late great Zig Ziglar that said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” At the beginning of last year, I asked my staff to turn in goals for the year for their area of ministry. You would have thought I had tortured them. It was like pulling teeth. I scratched my head in disbelief. Every staff member should set goals for his or her ministry area and then share them with the team. This is a concept called “Goal Contagion.” Scientists have found that you are dramatically more likely to accomplish your goals if you can see other people working on goals. You don’t even have to meet the person, simply reading about what they’re working on gives you a literal boost. As I have blogged about numerous times in the past, we must constantly be recruiting, equipping/training and growing in our given areas of ministry. If you have 10 volunteers, make a goal to get to 20 volunteers. If you are bad with communication, make it a goal to communicate better this new year. If you’re bad with follow up and assimilation, make it a goal to send out letters, emails and make phone calls this new year, each week. Make goals to grow spiritually and professionally. If you lead a staff or team, think of developing personal growth plans for each of your team members and check in with them each week. Don’t wait until the year-end evaluation to tell someone how they’re doing. If someone is doing a poor job, it should not be a surprise to them in a year-end review. Read that again. Communicate and set clear, measurable goals.

* Do these 7 simple, but crucial things and your new year will be off to a great start.