Links & Quotes

I co-host a leadership podcast with my good friend of 30+ years Greg Heeres. In an episode that came out last week, we were discussing the importance of friendships for leaders. All of us need friends that are investing in our lives. You may check out the rest of the conversation Greg and I had by clicking here.

Jonathan Woodward writes, “The right use of authority or power can make people glad. In our age, however, power is often immediately viewed with skepticism or outright disdain.” He also talks about our responsibility to the incorrect use of leadership authority: “It’s absolutely necessary to identify, challenge, and rebuke sinful leadership. It ensures that people are cared for and God is honored.” Check out The Power to Bless: Six Dimensions of Good Leadership.

More and more scientists are dissatisfied with the lack of evidence supporting the theory of evolution. ICR reports, “Indiana University Biologist Armin Moczek told The Guardian, ‘We still do not have a good answer. This classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time, has so far fallen flat.’”

The churches in my hometown of Cedar Springs, MI, have partnered together to make sure students who are food insecure on the weekend are supplied with nutritious food to carry them through the weekend. If you would like to know more, or if you would like to help us, please check out the Cedar Springs Ministerial Association website.

“Because we love something else other than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.” —C.S. Lewis

This is one of the best interviews I have done. I so enjoyed this! And the good news is this is only part 1. We had such a good conversation that the hosts asked me to stick around to record another episode with them. Here is the first session…

“Here’s the deal: the better you get, the harder you have to work.” —Albert King, speaking to Stevie Ray Vaughan

Here is a brief clip from a teaching I did for some ministry interns. You can check out more of this by clicking here.

Is “Bigger” An Unbiblical Metric?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Many “church growth experts” will tell people how to grow their church. But when we say “grow,” what exactly do we mean? Does that mean more people? Does that mean more engaged church members? Or is it a combination of both? 

But more importantly: What does the Bible say about church growth? Does it give us any indication about whether church growth should be quantity or quality?

I taught on this subject with some summer ministry interns. Take a look…

I unpack this idea in much greater depth in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter. My book is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

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“Doing” Church

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff and I talked about some of the changes pastors and churches were forced to confront during the COVID shutdowns. For me, this was a time for my leadership team to examine why we “do church” the way we do. These shutdowns helped us identify the things that were biblical and non-biblical. 

One of the reasons I gave the subtitle “The Metrics That Really Matter” to my book was because of the frustration I saw in so many pastors who were feeling unsuccessful. I discovered that their frustration was largely due to trying to live up to metrics that simply aren’t found in the pages of Scripture. As I wrote in the preface of my book—

My larger concern is that churches, parachurch organizations, and nonprofit ministries that are largely founded to fulfill a biblical mandate are straying from the simple, freeing truths found in the Bible. Or maybe I should say that they are adding things to their ministries that aren’t in the pages of Scripture. Whichever way you want to say it, the result is the same: We are using the wrong metrics to define “success” for our ministries. I fear that in our focus on unbiblical practices, we are missing the joy of really doing ministry. 

Our ministry should be joyful to us as leaders and joy-giving to those to whom we are ministering. If it’s draining instead of fulfilling, that may be an indication that we are trying to gauge success by monitoring non-biblical metrics. 

If you want to dig into this a bit more, check out two previous posts I wrote: 

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

William Perkins defined theology as, “The science of living blessedly forever.” He also had this word for pastors as they teach theology: “The ‘demonstration of the Spirit’ becomes a reality when, in preaching, the minister of the Word conducts himself in such a way that everyone—even those who are ignorant of the gospel and are unbelievers—recognize that it is not so much the preacher who is speaking but the Spirit of God in him and by him…. This is what makes his ministry living and powerful.”

“Self-trust is the first secret of success.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

80 Years Ago: The Assemblies of God was a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and remains the largest of the 40 denominations that are members of the NAE today.

John Piper identifies five digital dangers and gives us strategies for combating them. I especially thought these insights on pornography were powerful: “More insidious that X-rated videos, we can now not only watch but join the perversity in the privacy of our own den. Interactive porn will allow you to ‘do it’ or make them ‘do it’ virtually. I have never seen it. Nor do I ever intend to. It kills the spirit. It drives God away. It depersonalizes women. It quenches prayer. It blanks out the Bible. It cheapens the soul. It destroys spiritual power. It defiles everything. Resolution: I will never open any app or website for sexual stimulation, nor purchase or download anything pornographic.”

“I could well believe that it is God‘s intention, since we have refused milder remedies, to compel us into unity, by persecution even and hardship. satan is without doubt nothing else than a hammer in the hand of a benevolent and severe God. For all, either willingly or unwillingly, do the will of God: Judas and satan as tools or instruments, John and Peter as sons.” —C.S. Lewis

“The response of Jesus to those guilty of sexual sin is not to condemn nor condone the sin. I see in His example [John 8:10-12] a good pattern: (1) Love first—‘I don’t condemn you’; (2) Speak the truth—‘Sin no more.’” —Kevin Berry. The world has made “love” mean accepting whatever the other person is doing, and “truth” now means agreeing with the other person. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can speak the truth in love without condemning nor condoning.

Links & Quotes

“Ministers should be persons of the same quiet, lamb-like spirit that Christ was of, the same spirit of submission to God’s will, and patience under afflictions, and meekness towards men; of the same calmness and composure of spirit under reproaches and sufferings from the malignity of evil men; of the same spirit of forgiveness of injuries; of the same spirit of charity, of fervent love and extensive benevolence; the same disposition to pity the miserable, to weep with those who weep, to help men under their calamities of both soul and body, to hear and grant the requests of the needy, and relieve the afflicted; the same spirit of condescension to the poor and mean, tenderness and gentleness towards the weak, and great and effectual love to enemies.” —Jonathan Edwards

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” —Elizabeth Elliot

In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I talk about how important it is for us to get a good night’s sleep to keep our leadership skills sharp. Sleep is also vitally important to help in the battle against overcoming temptations.

A groundbreaking paper was released this year that appears to debunk evolutionary theories once again. Check out this commentary from John Stonestreet’s podcast.

“There’s no such thing as a spiritual vacuum in the cosmos. Whatever of our time, attention, interest, or strength is not devoted to the Lord, and His Kingdom and glory, will become susceptible to being taken over by contrary interests. These often take the form of false teachers who appeal to our selfish interests and encourage us to make of the faith of Jesus Christ a kind of spiritual smorgasbord for whatever we think we need. We leave off the solid food of sound doctrine and dabble in the sweets and crunchies of mere self-interest—if we spend any time in the Word of God at all. Our mind enters a period of arrested development which will become permanent atrophy unless serious measures are engaged.” —T.M. Moore

“Always make your gratitude greater than your success.” —Dan Sullivan & Catherine Nomura

What Do We Mean By “Grow”?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the 200churches podcast with Jeff Keady. 

Jeff asked me how the challenges of the last couple of years affected the thoughts that went into writing my book Shepherd Leadership. I explained to him how my conversation with a local pastor actually created the subtitle of the book: The Metrics That Really Matter.  

In another recent conversation on The Craig And Greg Show, I talked about a comical conversation I had with a church board about their definition of the word “grow.”

In Shepherd Leadership, I wrote, 

Growth and success may need to be redefined in your church or ministry. If you’ve been thinking that success is a steadily upward climb in attendance or donations, or a bigger facility, or more people on staff, then it would appear that the ministries of Philip, Paul, and even Jesus were highly unsuccessful. We’ve already seen that Philip went from a large revival in Samaria to one person in the desert. Paul came to the end of his life telling Timothy how many of his companions had abandoned him. And Jesus started His public ministry with twelve emerging leaders, only to see one betray Him, nine run away when He was arrested, and one deny that he even knew Him. When we come up with our plans to “grow” our ministry, or we say “success” is all about what we can count, aren’t we really just self-promoting? 

Godly shepherd leaders need to make sure that they are concentrating not on more sheep, but on greater health. Remember: the shepherd doesn’t give birth to sheep, but the shepherd creates a healthy environment for the sheep to reproduce.

I’ll be sharing more clips from this 200churches interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Podcast: Mistake Your Way To Success

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:20] Craig shares an insightful quote from John Maxwell 
  • [0:45] The guys claim to have never made a mistake, and we definitely believe them…
  • [1:12] Mistakes help both individuals and teams grow 
  • [2:12] Craig shares a lesson from his wife’s classroom about it being a safe place to make mistakes 
  • [3:06] Leaders need to distinguish between success and perfection 
  • [3:50] What do our faces show when others make mistakes? 
  • [4:40] Greg explains how grace and humility from the leader will help other teammates deal with their mistakes 
  • [6:16] Sports show us how mistakes can lead to excellence 
  • [7:24] Greg’s football mistakes led to his high level of success 
  • [11:06] Leaders have to remind everyone that mistakes aren’t fatal 
  • [13:30] Thomas Edison gave us a good example about success coming from failure 
  • [15:31] When leaders share their mistakes, it’s freeing for the rest of the team
  • [17:26] Leaders need to take initiative—as the leader goes, so goes the team

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Was Church Successful This Week?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

It is quite disheartening for me to hear how many pastors contemplate their resignation on Monday morning. Just one day after pouring out their heart to their congregation, they are thinking about throwing in the towel.

I think one of the major contributing factors to this is our inaccurate measurements of success.

Far too many pastors measure success by noses and nickels: what was the attendance and what was the offering? When either of these dip, pastors tend to feel unsuccessful. 

But no where in the Bible do we see these metrics of success.

I wrote Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter to help ministry leaders refocus on what God calls success. If you are a pastor—or if you love your pastor—please pick up a copy today.

My book is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple.

Whose Ladder?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I had a great time on the Ailbe Podcast with Rusty Rabon.

Rusty quotes a section from the chapter “The Wrong Ladder” in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter: 

God frequently picks people we would consider the least qualified. He sometimes has one in an unglamorous position for years, and sometimes He catapults somebody immediately to the top. Sometimes God will keep His hand-selected individual in a prominent leadership position until death, and sometimes He will remove that person to a place of obscurity after only a short time. God’s ladder of success is nothing like ours! 

We discuss the American cultural ladder and how that may or may not square with what we read on the pages of the Bible. I use the example from the life of Philip to make my point that we would be wise to not try to set up our own ladder of success. 

 I’ll be sharing more clips from this interview soon, so please stay tuned. Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter is now available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Do Our Ministries Need “Glittering Tinsel”?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Former Assembly of God General Superintendent W.T. Gaston wrote an article of warning in 1953 that pastors and ministry leaders would do well to heed again today. This part especially caught my attention—

Gaston suggested, “If we are to have a future that is better or even comparable and worthy of our past, we will need to learn over again some of the lessons of yesterday.” One of the important lessons to rediscover, he wrote, was the importance of promoting “pure, undefiled” religion. 

He recalled that many early 20th-century Pentecostal pioneers were bivocational ministers, that often met in homes or rented buildings, and that most were not very impressive by the standards of the surrounding culture. However, they did not need worldly goods and accolades in order for the Holy Spirit to accomplish great things through their lives and ministries.

Gaston wrote that he witnessed an “utter disregard for poverty or wealth or station in life” in the early Pentecostal movement. Yet “those rugged pioneers,” he noted, “had something that made them attractive and convincing.” The contrast between the attitudes of the world and the early Pentecostals was striking. According to Gaston, early believers were “completely satisfied without the world’s glittering tinsel, and content to be the objects of its scornful hatred.”

In the Preface to my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I sound a similar note of warning and encouragement: 

My larger concern is that churches, parachurch organizations, and nonprofit ministries that are largely founded to fulfill a biblical mandate are straying from the simple, freeing truths found in the Bible. Or maybe I should say that they are adding things to their ministries that aren’t in the pages of Scripture. Whichever way you want to say it, the result is the same: We are using the wrong metrics to define “success” for our ministries. I fear that in our focus on unbiblical practices, we are missing the joy of really doing ministry. 

All of these titles, flowcharts, and non-essential things that we are discussing, revamping, implementing, and measuring aren’t doing anything to liberate us, but they are keeping us focused on checking off meaningless boxes. We’re spending far too much valuable time and resources on keeping the machinery running, but we’re not correctly evaluating the outputs. We need to recalibrate our understanding of leadership: God’s leaders are servants. … 

I believe that leaders of churches and nonprofit ministries will find the greatest freedom and enjoyment—and ultimately experience the full blessing of God—when they learn to view themselves as shepherd leaders. Jesus is our ultimate example: Our Good Shepherd showed us how to live out the lifestyle that pleases Him and glorifies our Heavenly Father. 

I hope you will buy a copy of this book. And I invite you to also check out this video where I explain a little more what I hope this book will accomplish in all of our ministries. 

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