Three Benefits of Leading in an Established Church

Thom Rainer recently published an article giving five reasons Millennial’s are increasingly disinterested in leading in established churches. Given my personal context as a Millennial who is leading in an established church, I was intrigued. While my time leading at Faith Baptist Mill Creek has been challenging, it’s also been full of great joy, and leading at Faith has presented me with opportunities that never would have been possible in a less-established situation.

When it comes to the topic of church revitalization there are lots of voices sharing the difficulties of embarking on such a journey. And rightfully so because revitalization is tough! Tough though it may be, I believe with all my heart that there are unique opportunities available to advance the Kingdom of God through revitalization that simply aren’t available elsewhere. As someone in the midst of the process with all its ups and downs I continue to believe that revitalization is worth it. So here are five reasons this Millennial is grateful to be able to lead in an established church.

Friendship and Ferguson

“So what’s your take on all this stuff that’s happening in Ferguson?” It was a question I tossed out to my friend Pastor Dr. Darryl Jenkins of Faith Community Church in Itasca back in August when the story was first getting out and the protests were heating up. We were out golfing together that afternoon, and honestly it took me a few holes just to work up the courage to ask the question at all.

Why? Because Darryl is a black man, and I frankly had little to no idea how to talk about the events in Ferguson with someone for whom I knew they must be more personal than they were to me. I even wondered if the question was too inappropriate to ask, and almost didn’t ask it at all. But I’m glad I did.

The Joy is in the Journey

My counselor shared some words of wisdom with me recently that I believe every leader needs to hear. Before I can share that with you though, I’ll first have to share some of my own foolishness.

You see the main focus of our conversation that day was some anxiety I had surrounding my age and relative inexperience compared to all that I hoped to accomplish. I was so worked up about this, that in the safety of that client-counselor relationship I actually said something along these lines.

Leaders are Readers (and Listeners, and Thinkers…)

If I could pick my “most important trait” for a potential leader it would have to be someone who has a hunger to learn and get better. Fortunately there are any number of great tools available to help one do so.

There are lots of characteristics that leaders need to have, but it’s that zeal to learn in particular takes the cake for me. With it your leadership potential is nearly limitless, while without it it’s extraordinarily hindered.

I’ve been blessed on my own leadership journey by countless resources that have helped to make me better. The posts below are simply my sharing some of those resources that have so blessed me with you.

Here you’ll find short reviews of books I’ve found useful, links to podcasts or other audio/video content that has helped me, and articles I’m reflecting on. I hope these resources will serve you as well as they’ve served me as you lead where you are.

P.S. I’m always on the lookout for new leadership resources. If you’ve got one that’s blessed you on your journey that’s not featured here I’d love to hear about it from you! Just leave a comment below to let me know a little bit about it and I’ll make sure to check it out.

Leading Change Without Losing It

If there’s one thing that every leader has to learn early on in their leadership journey it’s how to navigate change. Leading change is challenging, which Carey understands firsthand as the Pastor of Connexus Church. While leading change is difficult for any leader it’s especially so for Pastors, who are beholden to the will of the people they lead in ways that most business leaders are not.

Carey brings his skill as both Pastor and lifelong student of leadership to the table in presenting his five strategies for leading change and staying sane. Those five strategies are:

  1. Determine who is for (or against) the change and why
  2. Decide where to focus your attention
  3. Develop the questions that will set your course.
  4.  Learn to attack problems instead of people.
  5.  Persevere until the critical breakthrough.

Carey is a generous leader and his blog and podcast are two of my favorites when it comes to leadership. Whether you’re a leader in business, ministry, or even just your family Carey’s resources will bless you, and none more so than this short book. (****)

In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership

This book lives up to its title as well as any book I’ve ever read. In a mere 110 pages Nouwen paints a picture of what it looks like to lead like Jesus that is intimate, engaging, and practical. Nouwen draws on his personal journey from celebrated Harvard professor to unknown chaplain for a community of the mentally disabled to demonstrate that Christian leadership must always be concerned with the exaltation of the other and the humiliation of the self.

Because this book is so short I’ve returned to it often over the years. I don’t re-read things all that much, but this book has proven to be worth the effort time and time again. Every time I read it I’m encouraged to lead with greater humility and reminded that the true heart of leadership is not selfish ambition, but selfless sacrifice. (*****)

Three Reasons I’m Writing on Leadership

I’ve been putting off launching this blog for a while now. Why? Because I’ve been scared. Specifically, I’ve been scared to write about something that I’m still such a rookie in.

Even though I lead every day in a complex environment and love to spend my time learning how to lead better, I still didn’t think what I had to share was worth sharing; after all, I haven’t been leading for all that long! But I’ve grown a lot since that season of doubt, and as part of that growth have decided to write regularly on leadership for the three following reasons.

My Old Stuff

Once upon a time I had another blog. Those days were simpler days. It was my first stab at blogging which meant it had a confusing url ( because the much better was taken), way-too-long posts (1,500+ words), and really low-quality pictures that I just ripped off of google images (probably illegal to use).

Technical faults aside the posts were my first attempts to capture some of what God was teaching me about ministry, theology, and leadership so I’ve preserved them here. The content is pretty different and a lot more scattershot than the stuff you’ll find on my main page, but these ruminations have still been a part of my journey for better or for worse.

So if any of the above intrigues you, go ahead and have at it! You’ll find all my old stuff below, and I’ve even updated the images to make it all a tad more bearable to read. If the posts bless you now in reading even half as much as they once did me in writing it won’t be time wasted.

Stop Trying to be Awesome and Let Jesus be Awesome (Part I)

This past weekend I spent four days on a summer retreat with over 60 7th and 8th grade students. Needless to say, I’m pretty exhausted right now.

Although there are tons of memories that Ill bring home with me from the trip, one memory stands out above the others. The most memorable experience wasn’t contorting my body in ways previously unimaginable on the high ropes course, nor was it watching the students repeatedly consume candy and soda like they were determined to become diabetics. Rather the most memorable experience came around a campfire on the last night of the retreat around a campfire.

Before I share that experience, and the lesson I learned from it let me give you some background on the lead up to that night. Like I mentioned it was the last night of camp. That means that I’d already put my body through the paces of a high ropes course, a day long canoe trip, and wrestling with students in the Wisconsin river. The word exhausted honestly doesn’t even do justice to describe how I felt going into that night. I was so tired I even took a quick 45 minute nap before the campfire; that’s a big deal for me because I’m pretty sure I believe that naps are sinful.

Before I caved to temptation and took my power nap though I had an important task to accomplish.

I knew that the coming campfire was the last chance I was going to have to speak to our 60 something students, many of whom were not regulars at Youth Group, and I knew I needed to clearly and succinctly present the Gospel around the campfire that evening.

So in those tired 15 minutes before my eyes closed for the nap I sketched out a short sermon for that night. We’d been studying the book of Jonah over the last four days, and the end of Jonah 2:8 where Jonah declares that “…salvation is from the Lord” had jumped at me as a perfect verse through which to share the Gospel that night. As I finished structuring the sermon I could already tell that God was up to something. Click through and keep reading to see what He was up to.

Stop Trying to be Awesome and Let God be Awesome (Part II)

In last weeks post I shared an incredible experience I had on our recent Middle School retreat. You can read more about that experience here, but if you’ve only got time to read one post today here’s the summary of part one. God clearly and graciously showed me on that retreat that I’ve spent far too much time in ministry trying to be awesome instead of getting out of the way to let Jesus be awesome.

Today I want to use this post to explore the Biblical support for what God showed me. I don’t want to ever use the phrase, “God showed me…” without being able to back it up in Scripture. So today I want to show what God showed me as it’s illustrated through the life of John the Baptist. Then later this week we’ll explore it as it’s illustrated through the Apostle Paul’s life. Let’s dive in.