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I think it was John Maxwell that said, “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” The tribe I was a part of (The Vineyard) drilled into us the need to ‘raise up leaders.’ Some experts have even told pastors that your church will only grow as large as your base of leaders. That sounds a little like those ‘golden-keys’ we read about (Grow leaders and your church will grow…I promise.) so I’m not sure I agree entirely with it, but the first two statements I do…most of the time, agree wth.

Often pastors want to talk about leadership development. And if they don’t bring up the subject, eventually I will ask them, “What are you doing to raise up new leaders?” But first I want to know how many active adults (adults, not adults and children) they have in their church, why? Because…

The smaller the church, the less the pastor needs leaders and the more the pastor needs helpers.

Now let there be no mistake about it, leaders will come from your team of helpers. Of those who are helping you, someone will stand out and catch your attention. Chances are, this could be a future leader.

The smaller your church the more likely it will be that you have more, sometimes way more, helpers than you have leaders. You see, if you are searching for leaders you are probably looking for a certain level of maturity and commitment to Jesus and the church. You may, or may not have such a person. But if you are looking for helpers the bar is a little lower and you will have more to choose from. Besides, it’s better to wait until you have the right kind of person you are going to call, or think of as a leader, than to put someone ‘in leadership’ prematurely and later regret it.

Once you call someone a ‘leader’ everything changes. Calling someone a leader changes their relationship with you and your relationship with them. Calling someone a leader changes your churches perception of the person. And…sorry to say this, sometimes people change, and not always for the better, once you are calling them a leader. For example, they might think this means more than you intended for it to mean. I suggest that you hold off on calling anyone a leader until you’ve had enough time to know if they are ‘leading’ in the way you want a ‘leader’ to lead.

Do you need ‘leaders’ or do you only need ‘helpers?’

Here are some steps you might find helpful:

  1. If you think you need a leader, what is it specifically that they need to lead?
  2. What concrete reasons do you have for thinking they would be a good leader of (fill in the blank)?
  3. Do you need to call them a leader or could you call them something else?
  4. Who are your helpers?
  5. Who among your helpers stands out the most?
  6. Who among your helpers comes in at second place?
  7. Pray over this/these people asking the Father to show you if he regards them as potential leaders.
  8. Begin to pour your time into them.
  9. At some point, but only if you think you have a future leader on your hands, let them know that you think they have potential. Don’t be thrown off if they immediately tell you that they think you are crazy. This can actually be a good sign.

Almost all leaders started out as helpers. Know who your helpers are and you will eventually know who your leaders are.


I had a friend who for years was plagued by poor health. She experienced fatigue, constipation, muscle weakness, muscle aches and pain, depressed mood…and could never find out why. She tried this and she tried that. One doctor told her one thing and a different doctor told her another, but still, no change. Finally she gave one more doctor a try. They ran a test to check her thyroid and (drum roll please) THAT WAS IT! The technical term is ‘low functioning thyroid’ or ‘hypothyroid.’

Does your church have a low functioning thyroid? And for the purpose of this article I’m thinking of a person or small group of people who are causing unhealthy symptoms?

If you are like so many other small church pastors there is a good chance you have someone in your church that is causing trouble for you. Examples:

a. A church bully

b. A church gossip/slanderer

c. A church member who purposely opposes change

d. A church critic

e. A church pastor critic

Never underestimate how one or two individuals can be holding your church back. The smaller the church, the fewer it takes to sabotage your mission and your joy.

Usually doctors treat hypothyroid holistically or with drugs. Occasionally they conclude that the best treatment is a thyroidectomy, the complete removal of the thyroid gland.

I talk to many pastors who have some low functioning thyroid person in their church. They avoid them. They try to talk to them. They pray for them to change. They hope that something will change. But often times…they tolerate them. Well…you get what you tolerate. If you want something different you’ll need to do something different. You might try to address it holistically, but chances are you’ll need to remove the gland.

These types must be told, “STOP IT, or leave. Those are your choices!”

It takes a brave pastor to tell someone this. It’s risky. It’s dangerous. You’re gonna make them mad. They might leave. They might take some people with them. You might get fired. They might cause a stink…but they’re already causing a stink.

Do you want a smelly church or a healthy church? Do you want a sick church or a healthy church. Do you need to treat a low functioning thyroid? If so, you probably need to say…

STOP IT, or leave. Those are your choices!

IMG_4324I’ve been coaching pastors for almost ten years. In addition to being a coach, I also serve churches as a consultant.

A consultant functions much like a coach to the church. Whereas a coach relates to an individual, the consultant relates to the church board, governing body, or leadership team.

A consultant comes in when a church feels stuck or in need of a fresh set of eyes to help them walk through a challenging situation. The consultant is someone objective and experienced.

A consultant provides honest feedback, practical ideas, and resources that are tailor-made for the current size and specific challenges of the church.

20 Reasons why a church might benefit from a consultant:

When they feel stuck.

When considering a new direction.

When they need a fresh set of eyes.

When considering their first hire.

When considering their first church plant.

If momentum or morale is bad.

When they are in decline.

When they have plateaued.

When nothing seems to be working.

If there is a need for someone to mediate conflict.

When bringing in a new pastor.

When determining the pay-package for their pastor or
staff member.

If they are a new church plant.

When faced with a crisis.

When wanting to do a church diagnostic test.

When considering getting their first building.

When the leadership feels they’re running out of ideas.

When preparing to set new goals for the up-coming year.

When faced with the likelyhood of needing to fire or lay-off someone.

When they have a mutiny on their hands.


You might be thinking, “Oh, we could never afford a church consultant.” Yes you can! Because my consulting happens over the phone via conference calls, the cost is kept to a minimum. Even the smallest of churches can now afford a church consultant.

Want to set up a free, no obligation 45 min. phone call to see if this is the right time to team up with a church consultant or to answer any quesitons you might have about consulting? If so, contact me at:

imagesMy pastor, Brian Boisen, is a good communicator, and recently I’ve noticed that he has become even better at one of the three components that make up a good sermon…the introduction. Brian has been having some great introductions. I’ve actually began to look forward to them.

If you have studied homiletics then this might be old news to you, but still, stay with me, there’s always a place for a reminder.

We’ve all been taught that a good sermon has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. I’m a preaching coach so I think a lot about these things. I’ve been speaking since I was a new Christian at the age of 16. That’s a lot of speaking. Let me share with you some thoughts I have about sermon introductions.

  1. Wait to develop your introduction until after you’ve completed the body of your sermon. Once you have a solid body you will be in a better place to decide on the most fitting introduction. One reason why some sermons do not relate to the introduction (“Hey, I thought he said he was going to speak on this, but instead he’s speaking about that.”) is because the pastor began with crafting the introduction first.
  2. Your introduction should accomplish three things: get my attention, make me want to listen to you, and tell me where we’ll be going. People can tune out pretty fast. We don’t have much time to capture them. A good sermon introduction does just that.
  3. Introductions are short but sweet. Depending on how long your sermons usually are should help you decide how long your introductions should be. For example, if you preach 15 to 20 minutes then your introduction should be about three minutes long. If you preach close to 30 minutes then your introduction can be up to five minutes. I just say this because some sermons I listen to take 10 minutes or longer before the speaker actually gets into the body of their sermon. You don’t have much time to get to the meat so offer an appetizer and then serve the main course.

They say that visitors to your church will decide within seven minutes after getting out of their car whether or not they will be coming back. It’s similar to sermons. You’ve got a few minutes to get their attention and make them want to listen to you. Work at developing a great introduction.

I can help you become a better preacher/teacher. To find out more go here.


Last April I had the privilege of attending The Big Little Church Conference in Washington state. I shared the platform with Karl Vaters (The Grasshopper Myth…if you haven’t read his book yet, you really need to). During one of the main sessions I was listening to Karl speak. I’m thinking to myself, “Man, this is good stuff. Karl always has good stuff.” But then, instead of remaining focused on Karl, I drifted off into dreamland, or thinkingland or some land other than where I was sitting. The thought came to me:

There are some pastors here, and many who were not able to attend, who would not be able to implement the great ideas Karl was sharing because back home, in their church, there were so many problems and obstacles they were facing that it was like they had one, maybe even two hands tied behind their backs.

So many pastors are trying to lead with one hand tied behind their backs. Here are some examples:

A board that is difficult to work with
An influential leader who opposes them
The threat of losing their job
A church that refuses to change
A church that is sinking financially
One or two individuals, or families, that are really the ones running things and they’ve made that very clear
A congregation with a long history of chewing up and spitting out pastors

I bet you could add to this list. Anyway…

If you feel you are trying to lead with one hand tied behind your back, let me offer these suggestions:

  1. Pray. I shouldn’t have to say this but let me remind you anyway. Pray. Pray for strength, pray for patience (this isn’t going to go away over night), pray for wisdom and insight (Often times there are dynamics at play that we are unaware of, becoming aware of them can be a great help.) Pray for the removal of the obstacle. If the obstacle is a person then pray that either their heart be changed or they leave. And finally…pray for a plan.
  2. Develop a plan that will move you in the direction you need to go no matter how small. Don’t give up and accept the fact that you have one hand tied behind your back. What can be done? Any movement in the right direction, no matter how small, will eventually get you where you want to go. I can help you with this.

What if you have two hands tied behind your back? Some of you might feel this way, and you might be right. If this is the case, you might need to move on. There are some dysfunctional and toxic churches out there and they will probably never be anything other than that. If God has called you to be a martyr then by all means be a martyr. But if not…move on. You must live to fight another day. The kingdom of God needs you. However, don’t make a decision as important as this without talking to a wise, experienced, and trusted colleague before you do anything. I can help you with this.


Here’s my latest.

Recently on my Small Church Pastor Group Page on Facebook, I said, “We have this idea that if you teach on tithing you’ll get tithers. When has that ever really happened?” I forgot how passionate some pastors can feel about tithing, whether they be pro or con. I didn’t intend the thread to go down that road but it did and I should have known better. Anyway…this is the first in a five part series about why teaching on tithing doesn’t work. And, in keeping with my (frustrating to some of you) policy of not stating publicly my position on certain controversial issues, I will try not to show my hand in regard to the topic of tithing.

Before I get to my first reason, let’s remember that Christians can read the same Bible and come to different conclusions about tithing. Some believe that the Bible does teach tithing for Christians today and some disagree. Same Bible, different conclusions. Both love the word of God but both have different positions on this. So…if you don’t teach tithing then simply substitute ‘giving’ or ‘stewardship’ and this series will still relate. Having said that…

The first reason why teaching on tithing doesn’t work is because teaching on tithing doesn’t happen all that often. Oh I know this is why some people don’t like the church, i.e. ‘they’re always talking about money’, and I’m sure there are plenty of those churches out there, but usually when I am talking to a pastor they confess that they don’t like to talk about money/tithing and therefore don’t do so as often as they think they should.

Pastor Bill: Dave, our giving is down. I don’t know what to do. Can we talk about that?

Me: Sure. Is this a three month or a six month trend or something that has been happening for a few weeks or maybe a month?

Pastor Bill: This started the end of last year and has continued to today.

Me: When was the last time you taught on tithing/giving?

Pastor Bill: Oh…let me think about that…Um…it’s been a while.

If you believe in tithing (or stewardship, or whatever word best describes what you think the Bible has to say about giving) but seldom teach on it, how do you expect one sermon a year to do the trick? If tithing (or stewardship, or whatever word best describes what you think the Bible has to say about giving) is such a big deal then why do we teach on it so infrequently? I think one reason is, possibly the number one reason is, fear. That’s what I’ll touch upon in part two, but let me sum up by saying…if you only teach on tithing (or stewardship, or whatever word best describes what you think the Bible has to say about giving) once in a blue moon, don’t expect that sermon, or series, no matter how good it is, to do the trick. My experience has shown me that most churches need to talk more about tithing rather than less and that they can do so without becoming ‘one of those churches that are always talking about money.’



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First of all, this could be one of the most important questions for you and your leadership team to ask: What are we doing to reach new people? The second best question is a follow up to the first: So, how’s that working for us?

Have you noticed that evangelism/outreach programs seldom work? And if they do ‘work’ the results are way, way off from what we hoped for. And another thing (boy, I’m really being negative…but stay with me), if our ‘program’ actually results in someone talking to a non-Christian and inviting them to church or getting them to accept Jesus…typically we never see them again. Have you noticed that? Now I hope that many of you will write me back objecting and sharing countless stories of how your evangelism/outreach program worked, still works, and how you couldn’t be happier.

I’ll just sit here and pause.

Okay, you’ve been waiting patiently, here it comes: The absolute best way to reach new people is through renewed people. People, not programs, reach new people.

Every year I keep waiting for a new study that will contradict previous studies telling us that the number one way people come to visit a church is by the invitation of someone they know and trust. I’m waiting for someone to prove that door to door works, that billboards work, newspaper adds work, free car wash works, kitten give-aways work. Nope, what do the experts keep telling us? The number one way to get people to visit your church is to inspire your people to invite their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers to church, or a church event.

You reach new people through renewed people. I wonder what would happen if we spent as much money and time and resources on creating ‘inviters’ as we did on outreach/evangelism programs? I think I know what would happen. We would see a consistent flow of guests and visitors.

What are you doing to reach new people?



My latest book is now available.
To find out more and order your
copy, go here.

joinme-150x150There’s a lot of talk these days about taking the church to the unchurched (missional) instead of expecting the unchurched to come to church (attractional). I understand what’s behind this, but does it have to be either/or? We desire to see our members walking out their faith where they live and work and play. We want them to “be the church, not merely go to church”. Also, we don’t want our people to abdicate their responsibility to share their faith by relying on their pastor to do it for them on Sunday morning. Fair enough, but I still believe that inviting a friend to church is a legitimate expression of personal evangelism.

People continue to respond to invitations to come to church. Ed Stetzer’s recent study discovered that 63% would respond favorably to an invitation from a friend or neighbor to come to church. Chances are the majority of the members in your church are there because someone invited them, they came, they liked it, they stayed. In addition to this, a large percentage of believers say they became Christians by responding to the gospel message or to an invitation made in church. There’s nothing wrong with training your people to be inviters and includers with a specific emphasis on inviting their friends, relatives, and co-workers to church. Inviting someone to church is not the only way to do personal evangelism, but it is a way. If you are going to create inviters and includers then you’ll need to do eight things:

1. You have to model it. When was the last time you invited someone to church? Remember, you reproduce what you are.

2. You have to pound the concept into them, altering their mental DNA. You have to talk about being inviters and includers over and over and over again.

3. You have to provide something relevant and safe for them to invite people to. Somehow discover a way to objectively determine if your Sunday morning service feels relevant and safe to visitors. Relevance can be achieved without compromise.

4. You have to celebrate victories. Remember, every time someone invites someone to church it is a victory regardless if the one invited comes or not.

5. You have to be committed to this for the long-haul. Altering the DNA of your people, creating inviters and includers, takes time.

6. You must not be afraid to present the gospel. Develop a streamlined version of the plan of salvation that you can share in two minutes or less. One advantage of sharing the gospel on Sunday mornings is that your regulars end up learning what the gospel message is.

7. You must not be afraid to ask for a decision. It doesn’t matter if you ask for a show of hands, or to sign a card, or come forward, or whatever…what matters is that you give them an opportunity to respond. I know that raising ones hand is no guarantee the person has truly been converted, but leave that to God.

8. You must have a plan for follow up. Somehow, someway you need to have a way to make contact with those who visit your church or make a decision for Christ. It’s always amazing to me when I hear of a church that has no follow up plan. Remember, Jesus said, “You have not because you follow up not.” No, not really.

UnknownLeadership Rule: It’s easier to get them in than it is to get them out.

Three things to look for when selecting leaders: character, competence, and ownership.

Look for character. African-American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) said, “Character is power.” The person with character has power…power to lead. People will follow a man or woman with character. Character isn’t developed overnight and you’ll need time and contact with the person to recognize whether or not they have character. Don’t rush to put someone in a key position of leadership until you’ve spotted signs of character or the lack of. What do they talk about, laugh about, value? How do they spend their free time, treat their wife, talk to those under them? Are they reliable, punctual, courteous, and kind? Are they impatient, critical, or condescending? How do they handle disagreement, personal criticism, conflict?

It takes time to recognize character. Be patient. Here’s the rule: The more important the position of leadership is that you are trying to fill, the longer you should take in making your decision.

Look for competence. Competency: the ability to do something well or to a required standard. Some pastors set their leadership standards too high and others too low. Both extremes will prevent a church from moving forward. If you’re thinking of making someone your new worship leader you want a certain level of competence. Someone leading a small church needs some competency in speaking, facilitating, etc. The church bookkeeper needs to be good with numbers. Now remember, some skills can be learned and if you have the time to invest in training someone…good for you. But it would be better to leave a ministry spot empty and wait for a competent person to fill it than to assign to it someone who will end up causing you a headache because of their incompetence.

Look for ownership. It’s hard to keep someone motivated in a ministry if they do not have ownership. That’s why you’ve got to be careful about talking someone into doing something they really don’t want to do. They might say yes to you but you will end up spending energy pushing and pulling them. People who have ownership of a ministry will be self-motivated.

Ownership, along with character and competence are three essential qualities to look for before setting apart someone in a key position of leadership. Save yourself a headache…select leaders slowly and carefully. Remember the rule: it’s easier to get them in than to get them out.

images-3In regards to putting people in leadership, always remember the rule: It’s easier to get them in than to get them out. One of the most common mistakes pastors make is to put someone in leadership who should not be in leadership. True, sometimes there’s no way to see it coming, i.e. a leader going bad on you; but other times we mistake certain people or qualities in people for leadership.

In my previous post I touched upon three people to look out for. Don’t put someone in leadership just because they are an ex-pastor. Don’t put people in leadership just because they have a lot of Bible knowledge. Don’t put people in leadership just because they are “on-fire” for the Lord. Now let’s look at two final qualities or types of people to be cautious about.

#4. Don’t put people in leadership just because they have been a Christian for a long time. Years should produce maturity, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I bet you know people in your church that accepted Christ when they were teenagers, and now they’re in their mid-forties and you’ve found yourself wondering how they can think or act so immature.

#5. Don’t put people in leadership just because they have a lot of past ministry experience. Your “leadership candidate” might be a great speaker, a powerful evangelist, or one who headed up ministries in his previous church, but don’t lay hands on that person just yet. Call the pastor of their former church and see what he has to say about this candidate. Always be cautious about those who let you know how they will be able to help you out. Why did they leave their previous church? Remember, it’s easier to get them in than to get them out.

What mistakes have you made?

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