5 Surprising Observations from my 7 Hours with 40 Pastors of Today’s Largest Churches

Each year Leadership Network  offers an amazing two day online leadership conference called The Nines. The 2013 conference is scheduled for November 15-16 and will include dozens of today’s most influential pastors and Christian leaders. I’ve been asked to be one of the presenters this year.


On August 1 Leadership Network gathered 40 of these leaders at Saddleback’s retreat center for a one-day forum. I attended and although I felt like a tiny guppy trying to swim upstream with large powerful dolphins, I came away very encouraged by my experience.

If I mentioned the names of these pastors and leaders, you’d probably know them for they headline the major church conferences and write best sellers. Many pastor some of the largest and most innovative mega-churches in the country. Here’s what I observed.

10 Transformative Takeaways from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit

Two weeks ago I attended Willow’s Leadership Summit and I’m glad I did. In my prior post I wrote about the 4 books I bought because of the Summit. In this post I list the 10 transformative insights I learned.


The insights are mostly paraphrases from each speaker’s respective talks, with their names in parentheses.

  1. MarginMake margin and Jesus will throw stuff in. (Bob Goff) Bob made me ask myself if my busyness sometimes hinders Jesus from throwing some really important stuff my way. Or, my busyness causes me to miss what He has already thrown my way.
  2. PerspectiveSee people for who they are becoming. Jesus called Peter, even with his impulsive nature, the rock upon which the Church would be built. He did not view him as a wuss. (Bob Goff)
  3. CourageYou can either choose courage or comfort. (Dr. Brene Brown) Wow, what a powerful quote.

8 Reasons Why Church Change is so Difficult

Wise leaders and pastors understand that lasting change requires individuals to change first before an organization will change. Your change won’t last or will disrupt your church unless those in your teams personally embrace the change first, at least at some level. So it behooves us to first understand why most people initially resist change.


Photo by MMcDonough

Brain insight helps us understand hidden processes around which we can design our change initiatives. Awareness of how people’s brains work in response to change can help you craft more lasting changes. Here are eight reasons why change is hard…

5 Ways to Build Trust with your Team

Without trust, a church staff or ministry team simply won’t function at its best. In a recent Harvard Business Review blog they quoted some dismal statistics about the workplace which probably hold true in the ministry realm as well.


Photo by Civilian Scrabble

According to the 2013 Edleman Trust Barometer,fewer than 20% of respondents believe leaders are actually telling the truth when confronted with a difficult issue in their organizations. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Human Capital Institute and Interaction Associates in 2013 found only 34% of organizations had high levels of trust in the places they work. And, a paltry 38% reported that their organizations had effective leadership running the show.

To cap off a small sliver of dismal data points, research firm Gallup found that over a twelve-year period between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of engaged employees in the workforce has shifted between 26% and 30%. That is, roughly 70% of employees in today’s organizations have spent more than a decade essentially collecting a paycheck, an almost Shakespearean spectacle of tragic ambivalence.

Wow, if only 1/3 of our church staff teams experience a high level of trust, then we have a lot of work to do. Here are five simple ways to build trust with your team…

5 Telling Questions to Ask at Your Next Staff Meeting

I’m just now reading Andy Stanley’s newest book Deep and Wide. It’s a must-read for every ministry leader.


In one chapter he poses 5 questions that are deeply telling about a church’s direction and impact. At your next staff meeting, pose these five questions and give your staff the freedom to answer honestly. Better yet, email them a few days prior to the meeting and ask each staffer to record his or her answers and bring them to your meeting.