Dave’s Takeaways

Dave’s Takeaways #27: Bits of Truth & Wisdom Gleaned From Past Coaching Calls


I know Paul said that our God is not a God of confusion but it seems that just means God isn’t confused.

In order to have a productive and meaningful leadership team meeting you might need to train your leaders how to have a productive and meaningful leadership team meeting.

Don’t run from culture. Don’t attack culture. Create culture.

We will never achieve a proper ‘outward focus’ if we hope for a balance (50/50) between outward focus and inward focus. We must lean more into an outward focus. May be 60/40 or 70/30.

Bullies don’t only hang out at playgrounds. Churches can have bullies as well. Bullies won’t stop until someone stops them. You get what you tolerate. Do you have a church-bully who needs to hear, “STOP IT”?

If I can’t hit a home run or a triple with a 15 minute sermon the problem wasn’t I didn’t have enough time.

Sometimes the supernatural word from God comes disguised as something natural. If we are only expecting God to speak in one certain way we just might miss the way He chooses to speak.

Small churches make a big impact when they focus on doing a few things well. You can’t do everything but you can do something. Find out what that is and do it well.

Why is it that we think a church is suppose to live forever? Could it be God’s purpose to call a church into existence for a season, maybe even a short season and then ask it to close down for reasons that might be unclear to us?

Touch, talk, listen, laugh = meaningful marriage.

All churches experience people leaving. People leave for different reasons, some legit, some lame. Some departures reflect a problem with the church. Some departures create a problem for the church, i.e. lost revenue, lost leaders/volunteers, etc. Some departures are a departure of the problem.

When we think of ‘outreach’ we tend to think in terms of programs instead of people. All your people know people who do not know Jesus or are not associated with a church. How will we turn our people into inviters and includers of their people?

Some of our frustrations in attempting to pastor people is that they do not think of us as their pastor. Not everyone who comes to your church regards you as their pastor. “Pastor” is a place in the hearts of people they have to choose to give you.

The first step in effective personal evangelism is to be a nice person who is kind, friendly, and polite.


Mile Wide, Inch Deep: Experiencing God Beyond the Shallows, Soul Care for Busy Pastors and the Rest of Us. Get your copy here.

Takeaways #26: bits of truth and wisdom gleaned from past coaching calls

Do what you should do and could do. Don’t worry about what you shouldn’t do and can’t do.

The sermon preparation time is as holy as the sermon delivery time.

It’s hard to say ‘no’ to people in crisis, but sometimes you must.

Many times the things we think are so urgent are not as urgent as we think.

Someone once said, “I’ll have plenty of time to rest when I get to heaven.” That might be true and not resting just might get you there quicker.

Vision and provision go together. If you have vision but no provision wait until the provision comes. Unless, of course, God tells you to do otherwise.

As a pastor don’t ask your leaders to conform to your leadership style. Ask your leaders what style of leadership they will flourish under and you do the conforming.

Feed what you want, starve what you don’t. (I’ll leave the application up to you.)

You get what you tolerate.

There’s very few things wrong with a shorter sermon but there can be very many things wrong with a sermon that is too long.

Passion + skill + need = fruit.

You might be running fast but if you’re headed in the wrong direction you’ll only arrive where you don’t want to be sooner.

It’s amazing how quickly some Christians can get mean and nasty. If you are right, but mean and nasty, you are wrong.

Sometimes you just have to go through the motions until the motions go through you and stick and become genuine change.

Discouragement occurs when you focus more on what God isn’t doing instead of what God is doing.

What do you need to forget? What do you need to remember?

Each time we respond to the still small voice of God our spirituality advances. Be listening.

Don’t let applause go to your head nor criticism go to your heart.

Takeaways #25: bits of truth and wisdom gleaned from past coaching calls.

If you’re hoping to bring about significant change in your church by merely preaching a significant sermon, you’re setting yourself up for significant disappointment.

Developing a spiritual life is not complicated but it is hard.

Sometimes the weight of God’s grace will cause you to collapse before Him in both sorrow and joy.

Coaches help people identify steps and take the first step towards their dreams or goals. You don’t begin by worrying about all the steps…only the first one.

It is very difficult, and unwise, to claim to know what all Millennials think. It’s very popular today to claim to know what all Millennials think. All Millennials don’t like this.

The wolf population is still alive and well. Sometimes, however, they disguise themselves as sheep. They still smell like wolves. A good shepherd knows how to recognize their smell.

Some pastors are good at hiding their anger…but they’re not.

If after having been offended you can walk away without becoming offended yourself, your soul will expand and you will bring pleasure to the Father. But this is hard.

Sometimes you need to be hard on yourself and sometimes you need to be easy on yourself. And you always need wisdom to know which is best under your circumstances. God will give you wisdom.

Just because God can be unpredictable is not the same as God cannot be trusted.

Love is a vibe that comes out in our preaching…or not. Loving the people you are speaking to is an important part of homiletics.

One test of a leader is their ability to say no to good things in order to make room for the best things.

We do a disservice to those preparing for the ministry if we fail to prepare them for how hard the life of a minister can often be. If this scares them off then they probably were not called by God in the first place.

Takeaways #24: bits of wisdom & truth gleaned from coaching calls

Have you noticed how the words from one person can be enough to put the wind back in your sails? Choose to be that type of person.

Be willing to adapt, modify, alter, change, adjust, readjust, convert, redesign, restyle, refashion, remodel, reshape, revamp, rework, redo, reconstruct, reorganize; customize, improve, amend, refine, tweak…if need be.

Some churches, and the pastors who lead them, are intimidated by bullies. At some point someone has to say, enough! Someone has to be willing to get bloody, to climb into the ring with the bully and take off the gloves.

Pay attention to those times when God doesn’t seem to be speaking. That’s one of the ways He speaks.

A bunch of cakes half-baked is not as good as a few cakes fully-baked. Focus on a few things and do them really well.

Just because you can’t close the back door is no excuse for letting it be wide open.

Not all great ideas, pressing needs, and unusual opportunities that come to us are from God. Wisdom and prayer reveal what the Father is doing. Hesitate before you say yes.

There is a presence of God that feels like an absence.

Confidence is not necessarily arrogance. Make sure your confidence does not come across as arrogance. Make sure your confidence is not really arrogance.

When we listen more than talk and ask more than tell we communicate love, honor, respect, and care. This is a better way to communicate.

One of the most common tactics of the devil is to attempt to put a relational wedge between the pastor and the worship leader.

If we only preach on giving when we are in trouble we’ll always feel uncomfortable preaching on giving. If we preach on giving regardless of the giving (up or down) we’ll feel comfortable preaching on giving and our people will feel comfortable hearing about giving.

If in your preaching you give off the vibe that you are irritated with your people you will not accomplish with your sermon what you were hoping to accomplish.

In the end, everything will be ok. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.

You don’t have to pick up your phone every time it rings. This is why God created voicemail.

Great sermons appeal to the intellect, the emotions, and the will.

Inside everything or anyone who has hurt you is imbedded something the Father is wanting to teach you.

Be on the watch for frustration. Frustration leads to irritation, which leads to separation.

Want to have happier people? Ask them to attend fewer meetings and raise the meaningfulness of the meetings you do ask them to attend.

An ever increasing inner peace is a sign of an ever increasing spirituality.

Takeaway #23, bits of truth and wisdom gleaned from coaching calls.


Takeaways #23 (July 2013)

A church needs to know when, why, and how to start a ministry…and, when, why, and how to end a ministry.

Focusing on breaking the next growth-barrier seldom results in breaking the next growth-barrier.

Focusing on breaking the next growth-barrier often results, not in breakthrough, but in frustration and fatigue.

Acting upon the subtle promptings of God is like an unwrapped popsicle on a hot summer day. If you don’t respond to it quickly it will melt away.

You teach what you know, but reproduce what you are. What you are is developed in that quiet place alone with God.

The challenge for the church today is to learn how to be divided without dividing.

Break big decisions down into a series of smaller decisions that you prayerfully deal with one at a time. These steps (smaller decisions) will lead you to making a wise and peace-filled big decision.

Everyone talks about thinking ‘outside of the box.’ Before you can think outside of the box you must understand what’s inside the box. Thinking outside the box does not mean you have to destroy the box, but instead, enlarge the box.

We must never forget that our denomination (or church) is only one expression of the larger body of Christ. That “larger body” is greatly loved by Jesus.

Every pastor needs a shelf in their office where they put things to be addressed later. Knowing when and when not to address things is a key leadership skill.

When you delegate (take something off of your plate) it usually means you’re putting something on someone else’s full plate. Don’t free yourself and burden someone else. Learn to delegate. Teach those delegated to to delegate. Once delegation reaches someone who has nothing on their plate…you’ve won!

When you delegate, don’t overburden someone else so that you can be less burdened.

Takeaways #22: Bits of truth and wisdom gleaned from recent coaching calls.


Takeaways #22 March-June 2013.

People will not change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.

Be careful of changing things when you feel restless or bored. A sense of restlessness and boredom are often an indication of something deeper the Father wants to address in your life.

Thinking of yourself less is not the same as thinking less of yourself. The first leads to freedom, the second, bondage.

I’m certain the Bible is the inspired word of God, I’m just not certain my interpretation of it is inspired.

There is such a thing as a healthy poor self-image.

“Will you trust Me for everything?” – God

Follow up and assimilation, follow up and assimilation. Retaining visitors is dependent on follow up and assimilation.

A good pastor is worth being paid well.

The first job of a church board is to take care of the pastor. The second job of a church board is to help the pastor take care of the church.

If we really believe in God’s sovereignty we will look at obstacles and delays differently.

Your church will not mind a regular flow of special speakers unless the special speakers suck. Special speakers need to be able to at least hit a triple. In this coaching session we discussed putting together a preaching team that consistently hits triples.

Pay attention to the existence of, or absence of, peace. Both require a different response.

It is an uncomfortable but essential question every church must answer: What are we doing to reach and retain new people?

If an author doesn’t capture your attention by the third chapter, put the book down and pick up something else. Life is too short to keep reading a book that doesn’t grab you.

It’s funny how often we say, “Well…all we can do at this point is pray.” It’s like we’re apologizing that there isn’t something better we could do. Pray first. Prayer is best…then, after prayer, find if there is something else that might accompany the best thing.

Embedded in each challenge or difficulty we face, is something the Father is trying to teach us. What are you facing? What might the Father be trying to show you?

In regards to spiritual formation, your alarm clock is the best tool in your bag.

Isn’t it interesting how we make some sins wrong but acceptable and others wrong and unacceptable?

Ask people questions and listen carefully to their answers and you’ll gain a reputation as one of the world’s greatest conversationalists.

My Takeaway After Speaking to About 500 High School Students


Yesterday I had the honorth of addressing the student body of Cascade Christian High School in Medford Oregon.

I’ve never seen a high school campus like this one, Christian or not. It was a beautiful campus, meticulously landscaped. Walking into one of the main buildings, trying to find the “Green Room”, I wandered past their Cafe, yes, you heard me right, a Cafe that rivaled Starbucks (although I don’t think they served coffee).

I was greeting at the door by one of the administrators while students began to slowly file in. After touching base with the sound man in the back and reminding him if I sucked it was his fault, I positioned myself near the front and waited for the chapel service to begin.

The worship band (all students) took the stage and began to lead everyone in worship. They were as good, if not better, than most “church” bands. After a video and some announcements, one of the band members introduced “David Jacobs, founder of Small Church Pastor.”

Now, no one calls me “David” except my mother, and Ellen if she is mad at me, but I didn’t let that throw me off. I walked up the steps, onto the stage and into the spotlights. Yes, they had lighting, impressive, although temporarily blinding, lighting. Pretending that I could see them, I began my talk.

The assistant to the Dean of Students reminded me that I had 20 minutes to speak but that I could go over a bit. I reassured her that when I’m talking to pastors about being guest speakers, one of the cardinal-rules is…never, never go over your time limit. Never!

For my introduction I decided to describe how different high school was in the 70’s, which was when I attended high school, and humiliated myself by telling them of the many “bad experiences” I had at school dances which included an demonstration of what a poor dancer I am.

My topic was “Preparing for life after high school” and I emphasized the importance of daily Bible reading. I know that sounds boring but apparently I pulled it off because at the end, when I challenged them to make a commitment to read their Bibles daily, with heads bowed and eyes closed, at least half the crowd raised their hands.

I was pleased with how things went. Many students and faculty complimented me, but the real compliment came a few hours later after I arrived home and checked my email to find a note from one of the administrators. It was only three sentences long but one of the three said, “You really connected with the students.”

There’s a difference between communicating and connecting. In fact, one might argue that you are not really communicating unless you’re connecting. My question for you is, are you connecting with your people when you preach or teach? How would one know if they are or not? Are you scratching (speaking) where they (your audience) itch? Many pastors scratch were they (the pastor) itch. This might be communication, but it seldom is connecting.

Discover a way to determine if your preaching is connecting.

Oh, if you’re wondering, I finished in at exactly 20 minutes.

February 2013 Takeaways: Bits of Wisdom & Truth Gleaned From Coaching Calls.

Regularly ask yourself, “Is this really as important as I think it is?” Usually your answer will be, “No.”

If you don’t take control of your calendar others will try to.

Being a pastor means being accessible to your people but you must be accessible on your terms, not theirs.

Pastor tells me that each staff job description begins with these two requirements: 1) develop your soul, and 2) develop leaders.

It’s the pastor’s job to know what the track is and to keep the church on track. A church, left to itself, has a tendency to drift off tract.

It’s hard to believe God is good when it seems He’s treating you like He’s not.

There is a sacrifice one must agree to when entering the pastorate. For some this sacrifice will be greater than for others. Either way…all will sacrifice. We must prepare the next generation for the sacrifice that awaits them.

The answer is always “no” if you don’t ask. Don’t be afraid to ask.

You can’t close the back door. Even if you could, there’s no lock on it and people will open it and leave. However, that doesn’t mean we want to leave the door wide open. Find the little you can do with that door and do it, then don’t worry about the back door.

We must fight the temptation to give people answers when the real need is to help them think for themselves. It is easier for you to tell someone what to do (or believe) rather than to help them discover answers on their own. We need thinking Christians not parrots.


3 Questions that put the responsibility of discipleship back on the shoulders of the disciple


Here is another one of my “take-aways” from a coaching call to a great pastor in Canada. The discussion was about discipleship and how best to do it with a balance between our responsibility and theirs. We came up with three questions to ask the person we’re trying to disciple:

1) What does your ideal relationship with Jesus look like to you?

2) How close are you willing to get to that ideal?

And then at a follow up meeting ask:

3) Have you been moving towards your ideal, away from your ideal, or are you in the same place you were the last time we met?

January 2013 Takeaways: Wisdom & Truth Gleaned From Coaching Calls.


Sometimes it seems like all God ever says is, “Trust Me, trust Me, trust Me. Will you trust Me?”

We (pastors) know how to read the Word, study the Word, exegete the Word, and Teach the Word. But do we know how to meditate on the Word?

Practicing the spiritual disciplines is a balance between effort and freedom, being hard on yourself and easy on yourself.

There is a thin line between motivation and manipulation and you can cross over into manipulation and not even know it. Be careful out there.

There is a mystical union with Christ that occurs when the pastor (or anyone for that matter) takes on the role of intercessor and prays for his/her people.

Spiritual Direction has come into vogue because most pastors no longer provide spiritual direction. Pastors must return to the practice of spiritual direction.

Nothing contributes to church growth quite like church growth.

There will be some things we do that seem small in the eyes of man but are very big in the eyes of God. See what God sees.

What goes around, comes around…one way or another.

As leaders we will always be shot at and at times we will take some hits.  That’s called “Bleedership.”

Say the hard things before it’s hard to say things.

Pastor says, “I’m not taken seriously by my denomination because my church is small. All I ever hear about or hear from are the “big-boys.” I think I’ve heard this about a gazillion times. (Is that a number?)

It really feels good to stop hitting your head against a wall. What walls have you been hitting your head against? What would happen if you stopped?

The pastor, then his/her leaders, then the church as a whole, must know these three things:

1. Who we (the church) are.

2. Where we’re going.

3. How we will get there.

We focused on the topic of vision. Three questions:

1. What do you see (vision)?

2. How will you describe it?

3. How will you move your church towards it?