Well, I'm down in Atlanta again for the Orange Conference with some of my team from Canada, and just crawled into bed after a very long but awesome first day of the conference. As per usual, the opening session was top notch, and I came back to the hotel pumped about all things Orange and even a bigger fan than before!
Here are 5 reasons I totally drink the Orange Kool-aide (and encourage you to do the same)
There you have it, 5 reasons why I drink the Kool-Aide. But don't take my word for it, give them a shout and experience their mission, vision and philosophy and see if they can't help you reach more people for Jesus in your own church! Go to whatisorange.org and find out more!
Like I mentioned in a previous post, I really love conferences - and my favourite one is coming up in only a few short days: The Orange Conference! Here are 6 ways you can make the most out of your time in Atlanta! I hope that I bump into you while down there!
What about you? What are some of your ideas on how to make the most out of a conference? Let us know in the comments!
I mentioned in a previous post that you need to keep your leadership skills sharp in order to lead well in any capacity. It's been said, and I fully agree, that "Leaders are Readers." So here are a few of the things I've been reading and listening to that help keep me sharp. Add some of them to your rotation of learning materials, and I'm sure you'll be better off for it!
Unseminary - This is a MUST-READ/Listen to! Both a blog and weekly podcast, Rich Birch continues to deliver fantastic content that all leaders need to be learning from!
What I like about it:
Andy Stanley Leadership - Again, this is a MUST-Listen to for anyone in ministry. If you're a fan of the NorthPoint's methodology or not, this podcast gives you a monthly audio lesson on leadership that you can use regardless of your circumstances or philosophy of ministry. If you're not listening to this, you are missing out!
Jesus Culture Leadership - this one is a stretch for me - and that's a good thing! The Jesus Culture people have a great heart for reaching people for Christ, but their style and possibly some of their theology don't exactly mesh with mine. But like they say, you'll never learn anything from people just like you. They are definitely aiming for the young leader, and I think that is awesome! I like their passion and it helps me stretch in areas I wouldn't go otherwise. Check them out
Phil Vischer - I stumbled on this gem while looking for kidmin podcasts... totally not a kidmin podcast! His panel including Skye Jethani and Christian Taylor lead to very provocative discussions on atheism, homosexuality, evangelicalism, and what it means to live out your Christian life. Phil has had some great guests on his show too that add to the variety! If you're looking for a change of what you're currently listening to, this is the one to check out!
Viral Churches - new to my collection, this book takes a great look into how churches are multiplying and the different ways that they look. Stetzer and Bird take an analytical view at different methodologies and seeing what are happening in congregations around the USA. I'm only about 1/3 through and I'm hooked and incredibly inspired to spread the Gospel through new (and current) venues that are open to me.
The One Thing - Short, sweet and intensely practical! How many times have you finished a day/week/month/year of work and been disappointed that you weren't able to accomplish what you shooting for? I read only one chapter at a time because there was so much for me to digest! Can you actually multitask? Is there such a thing as a work/life balance? Can you have successful habits? If you have any aspiration to do anything, you need to read this book! You can't read it and not glean gobs of practical wisdom.
David and Goliath - Don't read this as a commentary on the biblical story by the same name - you'll be disappointed and confused! Instead the insight that Malcolm Gladwell brings into how so many underdogs in society are able to "beat the odds" against giant foes will cause you to look at your problems in a new way! Gladwell's 'bait and switch' storytelling technique had me guessing on every page.
Futureville - Skye Jethani (remember him from the Phil Vischer podcast) has wrote a very readable book about how we view the future affects what we do in the present and how often Christians have lost the biblical view of vocation, resurrection and why it's bad for us. This will be a book I'll reference more and have already handed it out to congregants to take a read. An academic book, this isn't and you'll probably finish it in 2-3 sittings, but I think it's great! Get your copy right away!
What are you reading and listening to these days? Share in the comments and help us all grow more!
I went on my first bike ride of the season this afternoon - and with 16c weather (after a crazy long and cold winter), it was a fantastic way to spend an Easter Sunday! As I was cleaning off from my ride, I was struck with some leadership lessons from cycling today.
What have you learned lately in your leadership journey? Who are you learning from? What changes are implementing in order to get better in the role you've been put in? Leave it in the comments!
Continuing with my journey into becoming a multisite church fan. You can catch up by reading Part 1 and Part 2. Also be sure to check out the Leadership Network's recent multisite church score card to reference some of the stats I mention
My experience in ministry had changed me in a few different ways: mainly, I was much less cynical and I had a new desire to become a better leader.
These changes led me to re-evaluate how I viewed church models - moving from a strictly ideal/theological stance to a more pragmatic approach - something that was severely missing from a few years previous!
As our church continued to dream about what being a church that planted new churches looked like, I began to think about how we would actually do this: would it be a la Neil Cole where we'd simply start a simple church using his LTG model (which I still think is a fantastic way to plant the Gospel in communities!) OR would it be a franchise like we've seen LifeChurch.TV do where each campus is very much like the original?
My position began much closer to the more common, "planting" approach - where a couple of people would be commissioned to go and plant a church with the sending congregation helping out with some prayer, people and finances along the way (or something like that). I figured that this was probably the best option because it allowed the planters to be very much contextualized to their communities. It also freed the new church from bringing along any baggage from the sending one - systems, thought patterns, traditions, sacred cows, etc.
Regarding this, Andy Stanley once said, "The reason church planting is so en vogue, is that people love the ability to create their own problems." As evidence has shown, new, planted churches, do have a greater impact on reaching the unchurched than established ones do - and I think being able to leave your old problems at the door is one reason why they're successful in that area!
I wasn't always a fan of the multisite church model. In fact, there was a time I was pretty caustic towards it! So, what changed? Take a look at the previous post in this series to catch up a bit before jumping in with this one.
Leadership was a topic that I had given very little thought to in my life. I think part of that was ignorance and part was arrogance; I had always been a leader in things like school projects and to think that there was even an option of being a good leader or a bad leader wasn't ever something that crossed my mind. For me, it was very black and white: either you lead or don't.
One staff retreat I went on early into my job, I was baffled by all the leadership talk. I thought it was fluff and unspiritual. One staff member was musing out loud what kind of leader Joshua would have had to be in order to mobilize the nation of Israel to cross into the Promised Land.
Never having led anything of any significant size, (and therefore, obviously an expert on such matters), I piped up that this was a silly discussion; if God tells you to lead people into the land, you just did it. No planning about how to do it. You just acted on it. My response really highlighted my inexperience in leadership. From that day forward, I began a pretty steep learning curve about what it meant to lead people - either 3, 30, 100 or more of them.
I realized that leadership development was ultra important for leading anything from an 'organic church' to a mega church and everything in-between!
Keep reading to see how I handled this leadership journey
If the Stafford from 6 years ago could see me know!
I didn't used to be a multisite church (model) fan, in fact, I was pretty caustic towards that kind of idea. But first, let's back up just a bit and let you into my story a little more.
I spent the first part of my adult life running from God's call to me to follow him where he wanted me to go. I still had regular church attendance, but that was about it and even after a while, I didn't even have that!
What happened in 2006 was that God really grabbed my heart and had my attention enough for his call to follow him was really clear: I need to go to bible college for my BA. During my time at Briercrest College and Seminary, I experienced what so many college students do: profound truths about God spoken into my life that I was previously unaware.
With a bit of life under my belt and my intensive study of scripture led me down a path of idealism and cynicism. The world of the "professional" pastor, anything to do with a large churches (the mega-church movement was fresh in my memory) or "strategic" church leadership irritated me. I was drawn to the micro-church (organic) movements and people like Neil Cole, Reggie McNeal, Tony & Felicity Dale, et. al, and anything that looked like a church was growing too big instantly made me suspicious of their methodology, spiritual credentials .
For a period of time, I believed that if it wasn't "organic" church, it was wrong and sinful - playing to pastor's egos and power trips. I remember seeing The Multisite Church Revolution on the bookshelf of the school library and just being disgusted that pastor's egos had grown so big that they couldn't keep it in one location. I wanted nothing to do with this new "fad."
I almost didn't want to work at a "traditional" church because I was so disillusioned with how wrong they were. To be fair, I think that traditional churches do a lot of things that could be improved on and hidden extremely well in our actions, is a secret sinful motive that we need to continually uncover and lay before Christ.
So, what happened between there and here? One word: "experience." I experienced the actual day-to-day life of a church.
At first, I came in guns-a-blazing about how wrong things were, how certain programs or ministries didn't (or couldn't) work because they we're exactly like I had concluded they should work. I left a pretty good trail of relational carnage as I wasn't afraid to critique everything and I seemed hell-bent on forcing the church to adhere to my ideology.
The problem was all my critiquing never could actually lead to any real change or growth in people or in the church.
One embarrassing staff meeting, I was asked what I thought could help people who are new to church join a small group (we call them House Churches), I responded at length about how House Churches really didn't work (because I'd never been involved in a healthy one) and how we had a long road ahead of us to ever hope that good leaders could emerge.
My pastor: "That's great, Stafford. So, how do we get people into house churches easily?"
Me: "But they don't work"
Pastor: "Let's start with imperfect leaders, and allow them to lead. So, how?"
Me: "oh. I don't know."
The first year of vocational ministry began to break down the barriers I had put up towards pragmatism and leadership. My experience of being a leader caused me to begin to move from a position of theory and thought (of which there was much study of these in college) into a position of action and personal growth (of which there was a serious need in my life).
I found myself with a team of 60 volunteers that I couldn't lead through ideology and cynicism - I had to figure out real pragmatic way of moving forward with the mission of the church.
Enter, leadership development and coaching into my life! While this doesn't actually tell you "why" I changed my view on multisite churches, (that'll come up next!), but I hope that it give you a snapshot into the process that went into it.
Have you ever gone through a similar progression in your life? Tell me about in the comments!
"Are we ready to go multisite? Are we big enough to go multisite?"
This is a BIG question and probably a really intimidating one! I think that the intimidation factor it is probably the biggest reason why churches wait too long to venture into the multisite territory.
A recent survey by Leadership Network revealed that the median size of churches that went multisite for the first time was 1200 people with 41% saying that they could have gone multisite at a smaller size!
I think that this FANTASTIC news! Too often, smaller churches (especially in a rural context) give up on big vision and goals simply because they are smaller than 'big-city' churches who do big-city things.
So, if going multisite doesn't require you to be a church of 1200, what other factors come into play?
Here are of a few questions that you need to start asking yourself to help you discern and determine the next steps. These were some of the really fantastic information that Geoff Suratt helped our church work though on our recent coaching trip to Denver. I'm sure that they'll be helpful for you too!
There are SO many more questions to answer before going multisite, but these 4 questions will help you along the way really figure out some of the real foundational pillars of a successful multisite.
It's true, I LOVE conferences! I love the environment, the presenters, the swag bags, the people... everything! Even things like getting to a conference pump me up! It's a whole adventure for me! I like conferences so much, I even organized and hosted a Kids Ministry conference last November, Fuel Conference!
This month, I'll be heading down to Atlanta, GA to the Orange Conference with a group from my church and I'm already giddy about it! Here are some of the reasons I absolutely love conferences:
However, conferences also have a shadow side for me and there are times where I probably shouldn't attend any conferences. Here's why conferences are really bad for me (and probably you too!):
So, in the end, I'm still a huge fan of the conference... it's just that I have to be aware of the shadow side too. I suggest that you treat your team to a conference - it'll show them their valued, enhance your ministry and team building, and potentially network you with so many other people on the same path!
What conferences are you attending this year?
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.