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A friend asked me what it’s like to be a new author, lead Christian Media Magazine, coach, consult, speak, write and lead during this season in our lives where our son is sick. Actually, he’s been sick for a year and a half. You can read what we’re going through here. I replied that like anything in life, we live by faith – taking one step at a time day by day.

We’ve seen God provide provision in our time of need in amazing ways over the last 6 months. (Actually throughout our entire marriage we can testify to this.) You can’t out-give God. He is faithful and He is our Provider.

Life isn’t all rainbows, cotton candy and cool Instagram pictures with the perfect filter on it. Life has ups and downs, peaks and valleys, highs and lows. I also find that I grow closer to God during the low times and am more desperate for Him. I talk about this a lot in my new book Strange Leadership. God wants us to be desperate for Him and He cares more about the journey than the destination. He’s pruning and refining us and making us more like His Son.

What I’m passionate about and the message of my book that I’m trying to get out to people is that God wants us to be desperate for Him and not just that – He’s looking for a desperation that leads to a dependency upon the Holy Spirit. My heart’s desire is to be reliant on the Holy Spirit and follow where He leads. That’s my prayer for all of you – in good and bad times, hold tight to God and be desperate for Him.

One of the parts of leadership that is often not talked about is leading yourself. If you are not disciplined and sharp and obedient, you can’t lead others well. I encourage you to read my short, free ebook “Leading Yourself.” Go to my new book’s website and scroll down the page to the free resources where you can download it and other free resources, including a Team Discussion Guide to my new book Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.

I pray that you will draw close to God in the tough times and that you would have a firm grip on His hand even when things seem to be going smoothly. He’s there for you through it all – good and bad. Run to Him.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8 (NKJV)

Tommy at Ronald McDonald House

Unless you follow me on Facebook, you may not be aware that we’ve been battling an illness with my son for the past year and a half. He’s missed a year of school and it took us a full year to get a proper diagnosis. My son, Tommy, has Amplified Pain Syndrome – a type of Fibromyalgia. There are only 3 programs/hospitals in the country that treat his special form of sickness and one happens to be in Kansas City, which is just 2 hours from us.

After meeting with a ton of specialists a while back, my son got accepted into the special program to treat Amplified Pain Syndrome at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. This program is effective and has an 85% success rate of getting kids back to a normal life, though my son is young for the program (11). The average age is 14.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been home with my two daughters and my wife has been staying with my son in Kansas City. We get to stay in The Ronald McDonald House. I left yesterday to return to Kansas City with my son and I’ll finish out the last two to three weeks here in KC with my son and my wife will be back home with our daughters.

This is an extremely tough time for our family and we hate seeing our son in so much pain. He does intense physical therapy from 7:30am to 4:30pm every day. It’s brutal and he can barely walk due his soreness. It’s like going on The Biggest Loser.

Please pray that God would strengthen, sustain and provide for us as a family over the remaining two to three weeks and pray that God would fully heal my son Tommy. Thank you for your prayers.


[The following is a brief excerpt from one chapter of my new book Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization. Go to the book’s website for more info:]

My top two spiritual gifts are leadership and administration, so the subject of organization is something I love and gravitate toward. If you have the spiritual gift of administration, you love structure, systems, processes, and org charts. If you don’t, those things probably drive you crazy. Regardless of your primary gifting, it helps to approach leadership with a thirty-thousand foot view and try to see the big picture of what’s going on in your organization. The way the body of Christ works is if this is difficult for you, surround yourself with other leaders who this is natural for.

In my travels, speaking, consulting, and conversations with leaders of all types, I’ve discovered a major reason they are not getting the results they desire is due to a system designed to give them the exact result they’re getting. If your system is designed to fail, you will fail every time. If your organization’s culture is one of creativity, innovation, trust, and you have a healthy system in place, there is no limit to what you as a team can accomplish (through the Holy Spirit). Do you think the Bible cares about organization? I do. Read the story of Moses and his father-in-law in Exodus 18:13-26.

I thank God for including the story of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro. In this story, we see Moses was a man with flaws and had made a poor decision on how to best go about judging the people. Maybe he didn’t have the gift of leadership or administration. He did, however, have the wisdom to listen to someone who did, and the Bible tells us this gave Moses new strength to carry out whatever God commanded him. The people also flourished in their settings. It was a win-win.

Greg Atkinson

The book The Externally Focused Quest by Eric Swanson and Rick Rusaw has some great thoughts on this as well. I could easily quote chapters of it for you, but I’ll just encourage you to read it.

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
Luke 6:43 (NIV)

It’s crucial to recognize your system could be choking the life, health, creativity and innovation out of your organization. My encouragement to you is to have someone with the gift of administration evaluate your systems. This could be someone in your church (maybe a business leader who will volunteer), a gifted staff member, or an outside consultant who can come in and look at the big picture.

One Scripture I’ve found myself quoting to church leaders often is when Jesus told his disciples to be “wise as serpents” (Matt. 10:16). In The Message, verse 16 reads, “be as cunning as a snake.” I am often referring to this verse when I’m engaged in helping an organization with strategic planning and overall strategy.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with strategy when it comes to church leadership. Of course we need to always be sensitive and open to the Spirit’s leading and sudden change, but God can be with us in the strategy and planning of any organization. So as you set up your systems, structure, and processes, I would suggest two thoughts: keep it simple and keep it fluid or flexible.

Neil Cole, director of Church Multiplication Associates said, “Simplicity is the key to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation. If the process is complex, it will break down early in the transference to the next generation of disciples. The more complex the process, the greater the giftedness needed to keep it going. The simpler the process, the more available it is to the broader Christian population” (Cultivating a Life for God, page 10). Albert Einstein said, “Out of complexity, find simplicity.” I agree. You might have seventy-five staff members on your team, but this doesn’t mean you can’t approach your structure and processes in such a way in which they are simple to share, quote, and move people through. Did you know research strongly backs this principle?

The book Simple Church is full of thoroughly researched and proven principles. I want to strongly encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. In Simple Church, the authors, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger, tell us that “in general, simple churches are growing and vibrant. Churches with a simple process for reaching and maturing people are expanding the kingdom … Conversely, complex churches are struggling and anemic. Churches without a process or with a complicated process for making disciples are floundering. As a whole, cluttered and complex churches are not alive. Our research shows that these churches are not growing.” (Simple Church, page 14).

*** Also be sure to download the FREE Team Discussion Guide on the book’s website and go through the book with your entire leadership team.


Tom-portrait-150x150Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom 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). Here’s his post:

“‘Let your hands be strong, you who now hear these words that the prophets spoke when the foundations were laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the LORD of Hosts.’” – Zec 8:8

In the movie “Facing the Giants,” high school football coach Grant Taylor fell into depression. After six years, he didn’t post a single winning season. One night, Taylor sat on his living room floor. He wrote a single question at the top of a notepad: “What is the purpose of our team?”

The purpose, he discovered, was not to win. After all, his players couldn’t even remember who had won the state championship three years ago. Life was a much more important game. The duty of the team, Taylor concluded, was to honor God and train his players to become men of strength, character and valor.

Inspired by this renewed focus, Taylor decided that win or lose, his team would honor God and trust him with the results. The team started winning. The players rallied behind their coach’s new vision and noticed changes in him that led to positive changes in themselves.

The prophet Zechariah refocused his Jewish compatriots, too. While they had obeyed Haggai’s earlier exhortation to start rebuilding the temple, procrastination and defeatism again threatened to return as new opposition heated up.

Zechariah didn’t allow his people’s fear to control them. Though enemies threatened, Zechariah redirected his people’s attention to the long-term promises of God. But before their victory could come to pass, they had to get to work.

I recently met with a colleague in a coffee shop. Relaxing music emanated from the high ceiling. Only a few other people sat around us. We spread out over a double-wide table and got some smooth java. Life suddenly slowed down for both of us.

I realized that I hadn’t really talked to him in months. Of course, we discuss stuff every day, but I couldn’t remember the last time we had connected like this. As we sipped, I resisted jumping into the agenda. I asked how he was doing in life and how the job was going. I was amazed how the intimate conversation naturally transitioned into the issues at hand. We came up with succinct, creative ideas that seemed free of the usual clutter. We even talked about our long-term personal dreams.

As we focused on the bigger vision of our business, I felt a new energy. I thought of Coach Taylor and Zechariah. The distant horizon came into view. We still have our current challenges, but they’re in perspective. I feel more confident about where we’re going, which motivates me to start laying stones right now.


1. Communicate for change. Your goal as a pastor is to take people from where they are to somewhere different. This is communicating for change. Andy Stanley will talk about how he crafts messages for “life change” rather than just to communicate information and he’ll also explain how to create clarity and focus around your message at the Preach Better Sermons FREE online event on April 29th.

2. Attract people to God’s word, not you. Lysa TerKeurst knows how to match the reality of God’s word with the struggles of her audience. She’ll explain how she does this, as well as how to help more people remember your message by using sticky statements and memorable points at the Preach Better Sermons event.

3. Preach from a passion for people and an urgency of the Gospel. Judah Smith talks about how preaching with the urgency of the Gospel is foundational to effective preaching. He’ll also share how to deal with discouragement as a pastor at Preach Better Sermons.

Make a commitment to be a better preacher.  Sign up for the free online conference.  Here are the details:

Date:  April 29th, 2014
Time:  1pm – 4pm EDT
Speakers:  Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, Lysa TerKeurst, Judah Smith, Herbert Cooper, Michael Hyatt, Andy Andrews, Derwin Gray, & Carl Lentz.
Registration:  Free sign up at


God has wired you uniquely and specially—your DNA and what makes you tick is different from mine and those around you. God has a personal plan for your life (Jer 29:11). Often, when God wants to use you for something significant, he will give you a passion for a cause or area of ministry. This is the H or “heart” in your SHAPE profile by Rick Warren. Mark Waltz of Granger Community Church says, “Every person has a fondness for a certain cause, need, or group of people. This is reflected in our conversations and is deeply tied to our emotions.” God will put his finger on something in your area of passion to use you for His cause.


Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. —Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)


The Bible instructs us to guard our heart. In the NLT, it goes on to say “for it determines the course of your life.” Where you go next and what you do next may be directly tied to your heart and passion. This is key for the innovative and strange leader. In a blog post at, Kevin DeYoung encourages pastors:

“Let your person constantly be refined by the spirit of God, and let the truth of God’s word shine through your own personality.” God is the one who gave you your unique personality and like it or not, He has a purpose and plan for it.


For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

—Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)


In the next chapter, we’ll look at the role vision plays in the life of the leader. Andy Stanley said, “Vision is always accompanied by strong emotion [or passion]. And the clearer the vision, the stronger the emotion.” (Visioneering p. 10) Another -ion I could list as a way to lead an innovative organization is by conviction, but to me this is closely tied with passion so I’m combining them.

I believe God gives you a passion, and this becomes a conviction for you. Like Christ, you won’t let anything deter you from what you feel led to do, pursue, or change. Jeremiah had a similar passion and conviction about sharing God’s word and speaking on His behalf. Look at this awesome verse:


But if I say, ‘I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,’ His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up

in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. —Jeremiah 20:9 (niv)


A heart check

Jeremiah, like so many of God’s servants over the years was living a passionate life based on the conviction he needed t be obedient to God’s call on his life. Jeremiah knew his shape,even though it wasn’t called this then. Do you know your shape?  I encourage you to take a SHAPE profile and read more about it in Rick Warren’s best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life. Rick writes in his Ministry ToolBox : “At Saddleback, we talk about the five different factors that make up a person’s SHAPE: Spiritual gift(s), Heart, Abilities, Personalities, and Experiences. Why is this important? Why should we bother figuring out how God has shaped us? I’ll give you five benefits.” Warren then promises these five benefits from understanding your SHAPE.: reduces stress, increases success, determines how you learn, deepens satisfaction, and builds self-esteem.

Rick Warren says, “The heart represents the core of your desires, hopes, interests, dreams, ambitions, and affections. The heart is the seat and source of all your intentions and motivations, what you love to do and care most about. Your heart is the real you, what you really are, not what others think you are or what circumstances pressure you to be. The heart determines why you say and do what you do, and feel the way you do about it. Just as each of us has a unique heartbeat, so God has given each of us a unique “Emotional Heartbeat” that signifies our passion in living.”

“What you are passionate about reveals your emotional heartbeat—find your passion and you will find your heart. And God looks upon the heart. And God wants you to serve Him out of heartfelt passion, not duty. There are two basic characteristics that determine when you are serving God from your heart. First is enthusiasm: You will be working out of love and enjoyment. Second is effectiveness: When you do what God has shaped you to love doing, you will get good at it.”

Throughout the course of human history, many have led from their heart and passion and many were thought to be strange— this goes with the territory. The beautiful thing about this concept to me is when you tap into your passion, the ministry, and service you do just flows out and you are less likely to burnout. Leading from passion is a secret to endurance and success in life and ministry. When God wants to do a new thing (innovation) through you, He may very well start with something near and dear to your heart. He may give you a passion for something He wants to change or be done differently. Follow your heart. Follow your passion and be obedient to God’s call.


The following is a book excerpt from my new book Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization.




This Easter was different and in a good way. Usually over the past two decades of local church ministry, I’ve worked 80 and 90 hour weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. I’ve done Maundy Thursday services, Good Friday services, Easter Sunrise services, Passion Plays, and multiple Easter worship experiences. I’ve produced countless services, videos, stage sets and highly attractional services.

This year was wonderful. I had no stress leading up to Easter. I spent quality time with my family. I was with my family Sunday morning as they looked through their Easter baskets. I worshiped our Risen Savior and enjoyed fellowship with dear friends.

I saw someone on Facebook post the day before Easter that most churches would double in attendance and then be back to normal numbers the following week. I’ve been there. Last year at my campus, we had over 800 people show up and then were back down to 400 the next week. There’s a lesson there somewhere. :)

I’m enjoying this season of life as I’m engaged in both a church plant for the unchurched and involved in a missional community with friends and neighbors. I’m much more focused on discipleship and seeing people grow in their faith. I used to be focused on pulling off a good production and seamless transitions and media cues. I’m not dogging any of that, but I’ve got to admit: I really enjoyed being away from all that pressure and production and showiness.

I’ve found my passion writing, speaking, consulting, equipping and training big “C” Church leaders and helping the Kingdom advance. I’m also passionate about getting to know my neighbors and friends in the community where I live. I’m reading all sorts of missional books to stretch and challenge my thinking, and I love it. This is a sweet season of life and ministry.

How was your Easter? As Editor of Christian Media Magazine, I’m curious as to how you used media leading up to Easter weekend (social media, promotion, website, etc.) and during your Easter worship experiences (videos, music, etc.). Please share on here or email me what you did at your church. I’ll be sharing some stories on CMM.

I was honored to be a guest on my friend DJ Chuang’s Social Media Church Podcast this past Tuesday. We did a special live show to coincide with the special Pre-Release Party of my new book Strange Leadership, which has been in the Top Ten of the Church Leadership category on Amazon ever since Tuesday! Here are the show notes:

Listen to the wide span of insights from Greg Atkinson – pastor, consultant, and Editor of Christian Media Magazine. He’s also author of a new book, Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization. Topics we covered include: how to encourage church leaders that are reluctant about using social media, how to use social media wisely instead of wasting time, evaluating the effectiveness of a church’s social media presence, and much more! This episode of Social Media Church was recorded before a live online audience via Google+ Hangout on Air. For more on the Social Media Church Podcast and to subscribe, go HERE.

Show Notes

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

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

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: 
  • 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:

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