Category Archives: Leadership

Competition amongst Churches

I am a competitive guy. Come down on Thursdays when I play squash and you can see that for yourself. As I often say with a smile on my face, I am not here to make friends I am here to win.  Of course I play for a number of reasons including fitness, fun and friendship. But we keep score.

When Pastors gather together for social and networking reasons this competitive spirit is under the surface. Like farmers enquiring about how much land another farmer owns, Pastors want to know how many people the next guy has in their church. Its natural. At some level it goes to their significance and place in the room.  And like a farmer, its not something we normally ask, but we find out somehow.

Its also ridiculous.

This has been happening ever since Paul the Apostle wrote this in 1 Corinthians 3

“4 When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.”

There is a number of things here. Paul points out that when we ascribe loyalty to one particular leader, pitting them against each other in some sort of church contest, we are following worldly values, not Jesus values. Both those leaders are serving the same Jesus, the same Lord. They are both preaching the same gospel.

Furthermore those leaders are doing work which the Lord gave them. Like talents, some are given 2, some 5, some 10. The mission, target and focus did not originate with them but rather with the call of Jesus and perhaps their skills, gifting and placement.

When another pastor, leader or church sees significant growth, people coming to Jesus, Churches growing…it is a cause for celebration. We are all actually on the same side. And when we are at our best we are winning, and so is everyone else on our team, the Church of Jesus Christ.

Billy Graham and his musical legacy

A great evangelist has passed away. Billy Graham was an innovator. A clear speaking Gospel message interlaced with humour, emotion and story. So many people I know can trace their spiritual lineage to a Billy Graham Crusade.

He used modern music to the mission he was involved in. From Johnny Cash to the Gaither Music crew.

At his funeral of the songs he picked was written by Paul Baloche in 1999. Billy would have been 80 years old when he heard this song…at the earliest. Years later he had Michael W Smith perform it at his evangelism rallies.

It goes nicely with this little newspaper response that has been floating around for a while.

I most love what Billy says here… ‘Sometimes Im afraid, a hymn can become so familiar to us that we sing it without thinking about the words’. In my words, sentiment should never replace spirituality. Worship has never been about us, its about God. Its about us being challenged to deeper spirituality, deeper connection. Its not about what we are familiar with.

So often we go back to the songs and the music that were present in our own spiritual formation. But God has moved on. What He was doing then was good. What He is doing today is better. Billy knew this.

I am going to listen to something new today. I hope to be like Billy when I am 80 years old.

Conflict and running to the funk

You know that heart wrenching feeling in your gut. The type that stays there and fester as you realise you are in conflict with someone. You have upset someone. Or someone is just plain angry at you.

You either rip the bandaid off quick or you let if fester. Its almost simplistic to say don’t let the sun go down on your anger. However the Biblical principle is true for a number of reasons. One of them being our own emotional health.

For me, I have learnt the pain of dealing with a conflict quickly is better than the pain of letting it fester. I am a run from conflict guy, but Ive learnt to run to it for my own hearts sake.

Lets not just shuffle people around

There has been a lot of movement in church planting in Perth recently.
It is quite exciting to see so many churches being planted. Statistics will tell you that on a percentage wise basis new churches will see more people become Christians than established churches.

Many of these churches are vibrant, young and relevant. They are being planted out of more established churches in new areas with energetic and passionate leaders. Its great to see.

One thought of caution though. I believe as Church leaders our primary focus should be on seeking and saving that which is lost. Finding ways to reach those who are far from Jesus and far from Church. That is difficult. Yet that is our mission.

My fathers son….

My dads funeral was a seminal moment for me.

I didn’t misunderstand my father. I didn’t understand him.

In one of those rare moments when I had his attention we attended a football game. It was his beloved Perth Demons getting touched up well and truly. I was about 7 or 8 years old. We left at half time.

I didn’t understand why we left early. Dad had taken me to the football. It was great. One of those rare moments where we had gone father and son together somewhere.

In later years I began to understand why he was as he was. Someone who wanted to communicate with his son, but was just unable to. He didn’t ever talk to me, not really. And I don’t think it was because he was a bad father. He wasn’t. He was a great father. But things had happened to him when he was a child, nothing abusive, just no emotional connection. He failed miserably at having one with me.

But at his funeral. There was over four hundred people there. Many of them dad had personally led to Jesus, or pastored or led in some way. The effect he had on the kingdom was profound. Out of the youth group he led, in a church which was in many ways dysfunctional, many teenagers grew up to be senior church leaders and pastors now leading all over the state and country. His effect for Jesus was profound.

People talk about him to me, and at my weakest moment a tinge of resentment rises up. Then its pride. And I’m a pastor. His son.

I wish I knew him like others did. But at the same time, I wish I was half the man he was.

On the margins

Those who are on the margins are generally at the forefront of change.

I was talking with a group of people about selecting songs for a combined event recently. There is no question that Hillsong is now mainstream. Has been for some time. That is no criticism of them. And they have different streams which are more on the margins. But church communities which perhaps at one stage would not do ‘Hillsong’ songs are now doing them. Maybe not from the latest album, but Hillsong has crossed over into general acceptance within the Christian community and has been for a decade.

What is next for the church. Well Hip Hop as a musical genre is huge. I have been musing on how it might be integrated within the church as a new generation grows up with Mcing, slapping bass notes and beatboxing.

Planetshakers have been on the margins for some time. There are some church communities which embrace their music, but it is difficult because so much of it is anthemic, and needs a huge sound to make it work, and generally a huge audience!

This is their latest release. Its on the margins. Its on point for todays youth culture. I like it! I can’t see it being replicated easily. But its worth a listen…and a look!



Thank you volunteers

Recently a friend and myself visited a evening event where the speaker was using a lot of visuals.

We were both quite distressed as the visiting speaker continually made sarcastic remarks to the operator of the visuals. Whoever the poor nameless person was, they were literally a second behind the speaker, earning his passive aggressive remarks.

How delightful it was to listen to Mark Conner speak as a guest speaker at a church and hear him acknowledge and congratulate the volunteer. I have had personal dealings with Mark where he personally went up to the volunteer and checked his slides, put them into the computer himself, and then explain what he wanted. He then thanked everyone. He could not have been more humble.
Watch here at the 6 minute 30 mark for an example of how to treat people well.

As church leaders we deal with volunteers all the time. They serve the church, they serve God and they serve the leaders of the church. They often have their own jobs, they have families, they are busy themselves. Yet they want to serve a greater purpose, be part of something significant. Let us treat them well, acknowledge them with respect.