I was asked a very interesting question this morning by a seasoned man.
“What is the key to being successful?’
I told him two things:
- Investing in the outcomes you want. School, building networks – read at least two hours a day.
I was asked a very interesting question this morning by a seasoned man.
“What is the key to being successful?’
I told him two things:
The following are the concluding points on how to get evangelism reintroduced to your church.
It is a well established fact that the major if not the reason 80% of the churches in the U.S. have stalled or in decline is they don’t do evangelism. The million dollar question is how do you start it back up again once its gone? Getting outreach started is far more difficult than keeping it going. It can take a year for things to kick in if you introduce a return to connecting people with the Gospel.
The following are ten key understandings and practices needed to return a small group, small church or mega-church back to outreach.
**The Murren Group is presently making available coaching and seminar on how to become an outreach focused church. Contact us at 407-982-6985 to schedule one in your area.
I have been very busy the last few days. We are launching the 25th church I have had a part in planting. G2G Church will come out and in public 6:00 Saturday Night. Our Pastor Aubery Shines is all set to draw things together. It has taken a lot of work to get this up and running. All we need in America is another 149,999 churches the next thirty years and we will re-Christianize America. I would appreciate your prayers for Saturday Night this week.
Just quickly some puzzling thoughts that have been collecting in my head.
I wrote yesterday for a couple hours and then hit a wall. It was a big weekend with lots of ministry. When I get tired I know I am tired they call me the energizer bunny. The Pastor of our church when I bragged about doing twice the work some thirty-year olds did with me said, “you have different batteries than everyone else.”
It might be so but it wasn’t the case yesterday.
I am starting to travel doing seminars, some coaching and speaking a bit again this fall and winter. I hate the travel. I have enjoyed being with Lori nearly ever day the last couple years. And then I have my best friend Hoover who loves to work with me. And of course the Florida sun. Thankfully I am able to do most of my work on one day trips and much of my coaching is going to be done in Orlando with church leaders flying in to meet with me. Awww,,,such a great idea.
Anyway – I decided to sleep through Monday Night Football last night. And I had a great idea. I wondered what my learning style was these days. I found a great test online. And I took it with little pain. The test I took measures whether you are – 1. a visual learner. 2. an auditory learner 3. a tactile learner.
The outcome was surprising. My learning style was equally all three. Basically it means I am a very adaptable person. Now if I could just get rid of this dysgraphia challenge I would be good.
I thoroughly believe in self-awareness. Not the power motivational kind but a growing awareness of who God made you to be and how you work. I think this is the foundation of most important things in our life. Everyone needs to know how they learn best. And what your spiritual style is as well. Oh yes – how you relate to people. I think this kind of information helps marriages, careers and helps bring the most joy to your life.
If i could leave a legacy I would like to develop an assessment of leaders that would match them with the exact form of church they are suited for. And if I could convince people that organizing kids by learning style and use cohorts to learn in our schools I would be happy. We often make grades the goal rather than learning. And unlike many nations our kids are not usually developed in the area of critical thinking. We are information spewers rather than thinking challengers even in the church.
I am about to go on a long walk with my dog Hoover… but a verse struck me in my mediations yesterday morning. It’s found in the story of the dishonest manager in Luke 16. Just one little phrase hit me, “…give an account of your management….” Manage well today my friends.
It’s Monday and I am pooped. But I have so much to do. Jim Henderson are writing a book together on how churches become great environments for spiritual bullies. He wants this thing done in less than sixty days. I have quit a bit written that will go out today. Pray for us it is I believe a very important book. So much bullying going on in so many levels.As a leader I gulp deep when I look at the data that says Jesus and Paul clearly felt on of the biggest threats to God’s work would be unqualified and toxic leaders.
Ok – remember I am 63 years old. I fully intend on it being said of me “he never laid his sword down.” I do teach on church planting and church development but I never want to be one those guys that teaches things they experience 20 years ago. And I always prefer to do exactly what I ask others to. So the Pastor of the Church that has taken on the assignment of birthing our plant we have been working at for 18 months and I am directing the journey. Our Pastor Aubrey Shines is easily the best Pastor I have encountered since my friend Ron Mehl passed. Just a remarkable pastor and inspiring encouragement of people. He has unleash all the muscle his church Glory to Glory has to offer to advance the cause.
We gathered eight people from our Orlando group with 25 radical “real thing” believers from Glory to Glory Tampa Flroida which is also the most loving place you will find. We went door to door. Many will say people will be offended thinking you are JWs. Actually I knew they wouldn’t. And I was right. The key is training people to be authentic, Humor always works well. We just said quickly when the folks operand their door -“we aren’t Jehovah Witnesses.” People usually laughed. However, me and my partner Horacio blurted this introduction out and the guy said, “I am Jehovah Witness Horacio said, “oh that’s too bad.”
We surveyed and talk with 700 homes. We handed out 1200 invitation cards. And we had 39 people say they would be there are our first Saturday Service. I expected 12. We go out again on the 20th of September 27th. This time we are going to wear T-Shirts that say “We’re Not Jehovah Witnesses” – I want to add and we;re not on TBN. But I have been shot down on that one.
Horacio and I talked with at least two people who had been badly hurt by churches. We were able to encourage them and express our regrets that they didn’t experience Christ’s love.
All of the 33 folks on our teams were absolutely addicted to the whole process of sharing Christ with people in need of him.
I am putting together a training program for future planters and leaders. One of the requirements for graduation is that a team of two take on two square blocks and express God’s love to the neighborhood however the Spirit leads them. We will give ideas but first I believe you have to pray.
One final note…. I was the oldest person on our teams. The average number of homes people reached was 45 homes. Me and Horacio reached out to 90 homes. And Horacio is no spring chicken either. Folks never lay your sword down.
If you live in or have relatives or friends that live on the I-4 corridor of Florida in Orlando or Tampa check out Glory to Glory pastured by Aubrey Shines. You will love it. I am having the time of myself serving this family of churches in reaching out.
I love what I do.
Nearly all churches that are in decline or stagnate have a long while left behind a passion for the lost and outreach to them.
Monday Mornings with Uncle Doug
I have reached the stage in my ministry and life that there are two new realities. One, what I call older leaders refer to me as their old brother. Two, younger leaders treat me like old uncle Doug. And I still have the energy of a 30 year old. And I am a forever learner so I am in the mix. Inside I look entirely different than I do no the outside. On the inside I look like a young George Clunny on the outside I look like an old Brian Dunnehy.
Given my new status and the fact that I am beginning a new cycle of giving input to young leaders I am writing a book for young leaders titled – Monday Mornings with Uncle Doug. I am drawing from 43 years of ministry and many many relationships and research to have a discussion with leaders that are beginning their great and grand journey of following Christ in leadership.
So I am including this morning six quick points. If you have feedback or other topical ideas fire them at me and I will be sure to not give you credit. I have many more thoughts building but I just wanted to see how this much read in a succinct outline.
Advice for leaders under 30 just starting out.
1. Make certain to have your community you lead put away 10% or more of your salary or income for you monthly. And add 10% to that yourself. Open up a 401k and feed it regularly. You are going to need more money that you ever imagined when you won’t be able to lift the boxes any longer. Insist on this. Neutralize those feelings of invincibility.
2. Learn to predict consequences to your behavior or make friends with older leaders and get advice. I am working with two churches with leaders in their 50’s. The churches have been going for 30 years in both cases. The leaders made some real errors of omission and commission decades ago. But the frightening part is the consequences have been building for decades. And when consequences build like that the mistakes become a syndrome. You can not recover in six months on this kind of thing. In fact I am not sure either church is going to make it without a serious restart and the leaders are now too old to probably do it well. I know neither of them listened nor listen to others well.
Just remember God will have mercy on you but he rarely stops consequences. He may forgive your adultery but he
won’t promise you your spouse will forget it. So collect old friends and experts and listen. And when you see you
are wrong push the rip cord soon and correct it and you might have a chance.
3. Watch talk about sex. I had a friend name Hazel Goddard. Hazel was one of the early leaders of Young Life and a psychologist. She had a powerful ministry to leaders who had fallen or were in deep depression and burnt out. She once told me “you young” leaders have lost decorum. She believed she could prove that the more talk leaders did about immorality the more immoral the churches and groups were. She said don’t have anyone confess sexual sin publicly. Keep things polite and proper. Just say they “were guilty of behavior unbecoming a minister” and that will suffice.
I sat in a service where a well known church leader began to talk about masturbation and how awful and sinful it was
even gesturing as though he were masturbating right then. Hazel taught me anyone who has to be that descriptive
about sex is doing one of two things. One, trying to get a quick and cheap emotional lift from the group for a bad
sermon. Two, they have not dealt with sexual sin of their own. It is in vogue by young leaders today influenced by the
likes of Mark Driscoll to be very descriptive and proscriptive about sex in public. Don’t do it. That kind of cheap trick as
a speaker works against developing polite and careful ways of dealing with sensitive topics.
Don’t do it. Trust you will bring more trouble than help. Save the talk for men and women meetings or write a booklet
to give your church. Personally I don’t trust anyone who uses sex talk in a way that is embarrassing to women and
most men. I feel they always have sexual issues they need to face.
4. Question everything. Especially those who tell you to not question them because they are God’s chosen. Don’t be cynical nor skeptical or a revolutionary just question. Every leader should sit down at the end of every year and go through every aspect of their church life and ministry and be brutally honest about whether it is biblical or helpful if not throw it out. Question your work schedule. Question your sermons. Question your holiness. Question your most important theology. Never question in anger but question in wisdom and learn discernment.
5. Watch out for pride. Many leaders have a touch or more of what they call hypomania. This carries with it a propensity to have personal grandiosity and troublesome self-importance. Get some prophets that will tell you you killed Bathsheba’s husband and listen. If your church doess’t grow don’t make yourself so important that you are the reason it didn’t work. If it does work let me warn you (if there is such a thing) that it is usually mostly “God’s kind of luck” that anything works. Most great leaders I know if you asked them how they grew so effectively will tell you but trust me they don’t really know. You are just a servant and that is all you ever will be. You can be replaced in ten minutes and don’t forget it. You are not superior spiritually because you lead. And you will never be anymore than a passable model. Your kids probably don’t think you are as great as you think either. And your parents remember when you soiled your pants. Never call yourself anything if you are apostolic let them say so…first before you leap to greatness in your mind. And trust me all the signs of your greatness will likely stall and decline and slip right through your fingers. If you’re a servant you won’t be destroyed.
6. Seek substance. And be curious not a mimic. If I run into another church putting in a coffee bar and cafe in I am going to blow my brains out. The only relevancy is first being intelligible to your culture. And two substance that can be applied through the vernacular of your listeners. If they speak spanish learn spanish. If they eat pork eat pork. But don’t buy a coffee bar and think you are being relevant. And don’t go buy a pair of jeans with holes in them because you saw the great new celebrity in the church do that. Personally I have made it a practice of wearing a suit where they wear jeans with holes. And i wear jeans where they wear ties. Be the smartest guy in the room not the hippest. And remember hip only lasts three yeas at most in our culture. And most of those who were hip yesterday have dated themselves and look like old tired hippies today.
Depression, Robin Williams, The Church and Me
Our whole nation is mourning Robin Williams. He for a long while was very open his bi-polarity, depression and addiction. And in that he is not alone. It is believed that 30% of Americans suffer from either or both substance addiction and some form of serious depression.
I have noted in the last fifteen years the church come along way in its understanding and approach to depression and those depressed. Oh yes there are still the magnificent morons out there. But most of the church at least is beginning to understand the the malady defies simple solutions of pray and “getting right.”
Yet there is still a stigma on any individual who admits to being a sufferer of this pain. And that is sad. From my experience I would say an astonishing number of church leaders deal with some form of bio-chemical depression. This depression is different that situational depression or depression brought about by poor mental hygiene or things like a lack of forgiving. All are rough but at least the other usually goes away with some cognitive counseling or making life adjustments and improving thinking habits.
I have suffered from depression that at times has been very severe at times since I was a young man. I didn’t know what it was for years. I took the approach that basically believed everyone dealt with what I did. It was actually my mid-thirties before I realized that this stuff was running me I wasn’t running it. It was kind of friend sometimes like Churchill’s description of his depression as the “dark Black Cat” that visited him.
I have a variety of depression that follows a period of creative bursts. I don’t get crazy or destructive I just incredibly focused and get the work done. I wrote a book in four days in this state once. I would say this part of me is just a period of way too much good.
Then I slid into what I call my monks mode. I hide out. It hurts to be around people. I cant’ focus. I have horrid agitation. the agitation effects my ability to type – or converse. And I feel like am in a bubble and can’t connect with anyone or beauty. I have learned to be joyous if you can imagine by faith and grit my way through what I have to do. And I feel despair, days and days of despair.
You would only slightly know what I was going through even if you knew me well. Remember it gets to in some ways feel like home. And the really horrifying reality is when this comes on the docs proved to me that it lasts exactly three months. So when it starts I know that’s where I will be for three months. And let me tell you I panic. But there is only one way through and that’s going through.
Yes, three months. I know that I know where Robin Williams was living. And you know no one can help you. I thankfully have found a deep connection with God in the darkness which I know few know because they have never felt that much pain. I have often wished I were dead for days at a time. The separation is unbearable.
I had fortunately have had two extraordinary docs. One, Dr. Ray Vath taught me that King David in the Bible had exactly the variety of this stuff that I do. Yet God called him a man after his own heart. It is a possibility as well that Peter was some variety of this thing. And for sure King Saul suffered as well. Dr. Vath pointed out to me that David had the ability to not be narcissistic in his pain or elation and also was able to listen to others. These were skills I sought to master.
I hated most of the drugs. Most I got every side effect the meds had. And others put me in a state that was more unlivable than the depression. Then one day I was coming out of one my journeys inward and Dr Vath shared with me he had finally found something I felt would hit my issue. It was a med that they gave parkinson disease sufferers. Somehow it keeps dopamine levels high. I shortly found I was normal. Since this med I only experienced maybe two to one week of depression at a time. It was marvelous. It was like coming into the gates of heaven for me. No more covering up how badly I felt. Or worrying about my reputation and people thinking I was incompetent or dangerous. It just felt good to discover what feeling good feels like.
If you are not one who is afflicted please fall down and thank God now. You are a very very very fortunate person.
I have lived in Florida now for two years. I love what I am doing here. It is thrilling to face each day’s work. And the most amazing part of living here is besides Mickey’s place I haven’t had even ten minutes of depression for two years. I still take a mild dose of some meds and the magic med Dr. Vath gave me. Life is more than good.
I have two reactions to things like Robin Williams suicide. One, I understand why. Two, rather than recriminating the suicidal everyone who doesn’t should fall on your face and thank God for the life you have. You have many more reasons than you realize to me thankful.
In conclusion the truth is I can hold my own with anyone’s competency. And I probably would trust my perception of life as much as anyone. My thinking is razor sharp. But I have had to have a regular practice of self-awareness and patience. I have found my way enough times that I know most everything ends at some point.
They say one thing depression suffers develop is an acute sense of empathy for others. I hope I have that. I think I do. If you or loved ones suffer I am writing this mainly because once in awhile I come out with my story. I am 63 now and no one can really do any more damage than I have inflicted upon myself. And every time I am honest I get a flurry of leaders, successful business people, and parents thank me and often ask for help.
Of course there is a spiritual component to this. For a number of years I was a speaker for a national organization seeking research and help for families and individuals who suffered from a depression or other mental illness issues. I met some of the most intelligent creative people in my life at these meetings who were learning to talk about their challenges. I usually taught on the spiritual effects and contribution to healing.
I hardly think of it these days. i would be dishonest if I didn’t that I am somewhat fearful about writing this story. And I am also a little embarrassed at some level. It’s hard to admit your broken.
So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Things Depress Prone People Need To Know
One of my side ministries has been helping depressed leaders and those who are in trouble. And usually its because I have muddled my way through my own journey and have about a 35 year perspective.
Here are some things I try and help the depressed of all varieties understand:
1. Depress makes you extremely selfish. In self-awareness if you can remind yourself of this. Some hospitals have found that a major therapy that works for depression is helping people worse off than yourself. Depressed persons need to remember the guy who was upset he had no shoes until he met a guy with no feet. I know exactly what I am suggesting and how difficult it is and in fact if you are really bad you probably can’t even take one step this direction but when you can give yourself away.
2. Remember that families of those who suffer from depression often take on the traits of the family of an alcoholic. Remember you are having an impact. My point is get the right help and fast you aren’t the only one being hurt. And get your family help at the same time.
3. Remember you are probably hurtful to people around you at some level. Sometimes you take out your pain on those you work with.
4. Remember to get the best help you can. I love pastors but very very few pastors are trained in how to help mental illness.
5. If you have the swing kind of depression you have to learn to listen to others. These kind have destroyed businesses, families and lives. Remember when you think you are creative you are probably impulsive and when you think you have great faith you probably are experiencing grandiose thinking. And when you think everyone else is moving too slow you are probably in a hypo mode. And when you are sure everyone’s against you you are probably paranoid.
6. Hope is essential. Today nearly every kind of depression has the likelihood of getting treated easily.
7. Substance abuse will only make it worse though you get temporary relief.
8. People are more forgiving than you think when you reach out for help.
9. Some people will use this against you career wise, and try and harm your reputation. Don’t let them. Tell only those who need to know and fight for your rights.
10. Sleep is often the first thing to go. And sleep deprivation will greatly effect your disease in a negative way. Go get help as soon as you go three nights without sleep or can only sleep an hour or two at a time. You produce chemicals necessary for healthy mental health while you sleep.
11. When you see a doc and they recommend meds from my experience count on having to try numerous kinds before they find the one that works for you. Be patient your doctor will get you there.
12. Remember you never alone. If needed contact the National Association for The Mentally Ill. They are in nearly every major city and some smaller. They will help guide you to the right help and give you encouragement. And they are always on the cutting edge of treatment available.
Hope that helps someone….church leaders your position doesn’t protect you. And understand that it COULD be that some of the things that aid you in your task (a topic we can take up later) maybe manifestations of a disease disorder.
The Murren Group
Our team at the Murren Group is developing a spanish wing of what we are doing. We feel compelled to help hispanic and spanish leaders to excel. We feel the spanish speaking church is experiencing incredible impact. We feel a great deal of the future of the church will be found in an inter-racial format. And we don’t mean a white dominated culture allowing people of color in. We feel the anglo church in America has a great deal to learn from out spanish speaking brothers and sisters. And we are receiving request to help in technical sides of ministry from spanish leaders Please pray for us as we endeavor to find our way.
The Murren Group
Three Thoughts I like to Share With Young Leaders
1. Teach people to question you then they will do it right.
2. Remember being upfront magnifies your weaknesses.
3. Remember being upfront magnifies your strengths you aren’t really that great.
The Murren Group
Announcing Two New Seminars from the Murren Group:
Session One: How to develop effective unpaid staff and leaders and how to be one.
Session Two: How to develop a bi-vocational led church in urban and suburban settings.
Session Three: How to break the 200, 500 and 1,000 barriers using mostly unpaid staff.
How to Get the Word Out: Biblical Marketing
Session One: Developing and understanding perception.
Session Two: Using Conventional Channels
Session Three: Building digital networks
Session Four: Developing a marketing plan and budget.
The offerings will be available in seminar form in November 2014. Watch for an event near you. If you would like to host an event contact us quickly at 407-982-6985 or Sonia at 407-733-0149.
The Murren Group
April issue of Journal of Neuroscience released a study from Harvard University on pot smoking and its effects on the brain. Guess what they compared those who smoked pot a few times a week with those who have never smoked pot and guess what.
Sure enough pot changed the very shape of the brain in areas that have to do with motivation, and the ability to consider consequences of one’s decisions. Not just while they smoke it but their brains were actually changed in biological and neurological make up.
I would say Harvard is pretty reliable and my guess is there is a lot of pot smoked there. So what are we going to do with what we are beginning to know?
Pot has been presented as the victimless crime. Baloney. Pot costs you and me money every day in bad decisions that people make. Parents are having to foot the bill for pot lazy kids. Doors are opened to more harsh drugs like heroin. And what happens to a culture that has the motivational center of their brain become deformed. I think it costs us all.
I know the U.S. has kind of a “cute” attitude toward pot. Washington State and Colorado are already facing issues. One of the sellers was how much we would save on not having to pay cops to catch pot smokers. I said at the time — maybe so but the IRS are going to have to put on a lot of new agents to make sure Uncle Sam gets is due. And sure enough I was right. Pot dealers are popping up allover the place under the radar avoiding taxes.
I believe that in 20 years we will wake up and find that for all the cuteness the legalization of pot was the worst social experiment we have ever done outside abortions run wild.
And on the spiritual plane Marijuana is a pseudo spiritual experience. And a not so benign attempt to numb one’s feelings and stress. Maybe one day we will find that pain, stress and hurt are all part of growing up and in fact are best felt to find real joy.
This whole issue is a Trojan horse that is going to get us big but it will be like the frog in the kettle.
The Murren Group
I have a limit on how much of a purely faith factor I will stretch toward. I know many will contend for 100%. I never venture on a new project with out one, getting confirmation from trusted friends who question me. Two if I don’t have 70 to 80% of the money ahead of time I have learned I work well in this range. I think people get in trouble when they move beyond their own levels. I know I sound less spiritual than some. But I encourage all those I mentor to learn their range.
The second thing about faith is I have found that I lose my faith not at the point of trusting God or my plan. I usually lose it when I have predetermined how my faith and prayers will be answered and what channels the answers and results will come through.
I try to find shalom when I believe. I think stress is a sure sign you have stepped to far. I am trying more and more to emulate Jesus’s zen like approach to challenges.
And I find that pastors often drive their church too often when it comes to faith and aspects of the church. Leaders must first educate out faith works. Allow their ideas to be tested and vetted rigorously. And try and build responses through crisis. Short term fixes nearly always undermine the core values and long term provision. And thye don’t pause to establish the faith level and range of their church. And therefore many leaders have to keep explaining why God keeps changing His mind.
I have also come to believe that if a church has long term financial crisis it’s a bad idea to try and raise money to get out of it. Of course it is far and wisdom to raise money for short term or situational needs. But when you go one to three years in constant financial trouble it is time to downsize to the lowest level you can go. This year I have advised two churches to sell all their buildings, take the net, meet in a school and use the net and savings to invest in ministry. Financial staring wears out a church.
The Murren Group
There is a growing segment of the American Christian community who possess only cynicism toward being part of a congregation. And it is mostly due to failure of churches, abusive leaders or broken trust. But of course a lot of it is also due to a lack of follow through and character on the part of a Christian.
The following are reasons I believe Christians get hurt or abused by churches: