Learning Styles

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.

Orlando Door to Door

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.

Uncle Doug

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.

Robin Williams

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.

Advice to Depressed People

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

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Spanish Church Coaching

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

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Young Leaders

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

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New Seminar

Announcing Two New Seminars from the Murren Group:

Revolutionary Church:

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

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Pot Bad Medicine

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

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Faith and Range

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

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Abused and Hurt Christians

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:

  1. They don’t know how to do analytical thinking. Our schools unlike Australian and German schools teach toward test scores rather than developing skills of analysis and assessment. We follow the rules thinking we will be safe. But we blindly expect to follow. It is the believers responsibility to be sharpened by the Word of God and test everything they hear.
  2. We don’t question enough. This one will get me in trouble with my fraternity of leaders. But I say question everything. Don’t be cynical or slanderous or skeptical. But question. Every January I question everything about the previous year. I question my call. I question my doctrine. I question my holiness. I question my use of money. And I question my leaders and organizations. It is a good thing. Leaders who can’t be assessed aren’t leaders they are something else. Everyone should go on Amazon and by my book “Criticism: Friend or Foe.” You can probably get it for .01 plus 200 dollars shipping.
  3. They are lazy. It’s easier to just go a long than seek understanding.
  4. They follow icons instead of servants. And when the idols fail that’s all there is in their foundation. i have come to believe a better model for church leadership is a symphony director rather than a super star celebrity.
  5. They want something for nothing.
  6. They believe the goal is perfection and no pain. Church is painful at times. Families are always painful at times. And if things get painful Americans bolt. If you want to good stuff sometimes you have to survive the bad stuff. Disappointment is something that kills Americans. All Christians and leaders will fail, sin, and make mistakes. Its unfortunate but true. If you go into church with the expectation that everyone at some point will be disappointing you will have more fun.
  7. They don’t follow their gut. As they say, “if it walks like a duck, quacks like a dog it is probably a duck.
  8. They approach church like a consumer rather than a disciple.
  9. They confuse forgiveness with approval, overlooking or trusting again.
  10. They get talked into something they didn’t feel good about to begin with and later feel burned. Only do what you want to do. Memorize II Cor. 8 – it will give you the approach of a healthy giver and believer.
  11. They have the church take the place of their family. Church is a poor substitute and will never satisfy on this level.
  12. They think they need to like everyone to be part of a church. I think we should get honest and realize that I can not like someone but still love them. I don’t like a number of people I work with regularly. And that is good. I would do anything for them out of love but I really don’t want to have coffee with them and that’s ok.
  13. Are susceptible to shame, guilt and personal attacks and confuse that will spiritual growth. We need to learn the power of grace, mercy and peace. Broken homes, to much mobility, addicted past, abuse of all kinds lead to emotional vulnerability that attracts abuse.
  14. Americans study the Bible but don’t go the next step to apply the word.

6 Lives

They say cats have 7 lives. I think people just might have that many as well. My mother’s B’day was yesterday. She is 83. I started wondering where would I be at 83. She walks 3 to 5 miles a day and has for years. Her mind is razor sharp. And she has a magnificent grasp of the scriptures. I led her to Christ in her 40s.

But I began to think for me that would likely be a whole other life. Have you ever looked back on your life or periods of your life and thought “who in the world was that person.” For fun sometime try talking to yourself that has past or the one coming up. It is a fascinating venture into self-awareness. I think God awareness is the most important journey of our life. And second self-awareness can save you a lot of wasted time and pain.

I have decided I have been five people and am working on my sixth. I honestly can’t relate well today to a couple of “me.”

It is amazing how different one can be in different seasons of their life. Hopefully each life is an improvement on the former but I know a few people that the opposite is true of the journey.

My first person was from ages 1to 16. I was pretty shy, I remember feeling pretty lonely and I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t mind school but it wasn’t my favorite activity. I remember enjoying working and making money in the Orchards in the small town I grew up in. My grandparents were extremely important to me. My brother and I made bombs I remember that pretty vividly. But overall nothing eventful came out of that life.

My second person was form ages 17 to 30. I call this my change the world phase. I started with experimenting with the religious side of hallucinogens. I really never like to get high per say. And to this day I have never been drunk. But I did think I was talking to God more than once. Even after my conversion I would say I was enamored with the “idea” of communism. It was a marvelous act of grace that I received Christ. I married too young. Had two incredible kids and some how we all survived my quest for our future. Worked on a church staff, did missions trips behind the Iron Curtain. I found my way through the Bible. And was on three different church staffs in college. And then was a staff member and leader of a Bible College of a church that was fantastic but turned bad at its end and isn’t around any longer. I learned five Ph D’s in life experience in that life. Basically I related to God as someone who wanted to use me and I wanted to be used. I was filled with a zealous passion to change the world. And I remember being supremely naive about people. I learned to not trust people in this life.

My third person was the pastor guy life. I with a group founded a church and merged with another church and the thing grew to 4500 Sunday morning attendance for a long stretch sometimes less sometimes more. This life was from 31 to 48. My identity was wrapped up in that church thing. That guy was incredibly ambitions about just doing things. I would call that my conquering life. I very much viewed people and their being with me on the basis of what we could accomplish together. My introversion and eccentricities grow in this phase. Eventually this man saw all he worked for in every arena disappear through his hands like sand. But it was great. This man learned the value of pain. And found in the end that God does do amazing things if you are willing to work and believe. And I learned to trust and love people at the same time. This was also my question everything and everyone phase which wasn’t a bad idea.

My fourth life was from 48-60. This guy really grew as a person. He learned that the highest call of anyone is to make other people successful. He spent about two years doing not much of anything but writing and studying how churches work in general. Found a life partner that was a perfect fit who was a person who wanted to grow too. He ended up coaching pastors, business people, denominations, churches large and small, internationally and ended up reaching a total of 17 books written. He learned to live in feast or famine. Most of all he learned that he wasn’t interested in being the face or personality of anything. This guy just wanted to be the best at knowing how things work in detail, and helping younger and older leaders succeed and have fun. This period he leaned to embrace pain as a good thing. And learned that life is fragile and unpredictable. And his quiet trust in God and lack of anxiety were the best way to live. In fact at the end of this phase his ambition was replaced by a zen like existence. He tried pastoring again but was a miserable failure at it. He learned he is not a small town guy. And churches nearly never turn around even when everything in lined out properly. He saw his call was after all helping others succeed.

My fifth life has just begun a couple years ago. This guy moved to Florida and found he was made perfectly for this part of the world. He misses in grandkids, kids and parents like crazy. But this life appears to be the guy that all the others where intended to go. He sees that all the pain, frustration, joys, successes, and believing prepared him for a whole new venture for what is clearly the peak of his life. And many times the other guys embarrass him. He sees he really had more sins than he thought but they were the Christian kind. In this life he does see dreams. He can meet ten minutes with a leader and predict where their headed. He knows exactly what is going on in a church within two hours. Its really quit amazing. But this guy would rather walk his dogs and pray than speak to 17,000 to 20,000 crowds he used to. And he is learning spanish and working on a doctorate at 63. He sees that life forever requires investment and preparation. This guy really loves knowing people and just thinking. We will see how he ends but hopeful it will be better than that last four guys.

Life number six….hopeful will come. I suspect this guy will think the first three were idiots and the last two almost got it right. And he will probably wish the other five had left him more money to work with.

DM

Education

I believe in education and getting all the education you can. I enter a venture toward another post-graduate degree this year at 63. I wish I had started this one thirty years ago. But now is better than never. I am what they call an autodictus learner meaning I do well with a strong range of interests and tend to study on my own and don’t enjoy locked in systems.

I really believe that most people are a genius at something or some manner of living. Some might be kinetic genius. Others might be mathematic geniuses. Others might have a brain that has the region where languages are produce that are very advanced. I don’t think everyone is a genius but I truly believe most are. One of the keys to a great life is self-awareness. It can be a wonderful thing to know how you work best and find the best learning environment.

Reports state that about 25% or more of High School students drop out. And of course a fair number later or quickly go through the GED process. But America is in serious jeopardy of not being able to compete in the future. I am not one who is certain that all our tests compare apples to apples but still we are in trouble. The American population really is pretty inept at understanding our governance and the basic knowledge of the world.

I know a bit about education. I have develop a couple schools and helped with several Christian and public schools’ curriculum. Here’s what I would do if I were king. I have had people tell me my ideas are economically impractical but my response is the inability to compete is going to cost us a lot more than doing education right.

So here’s my list:

  1. Have students tested for their learning style. Then design a curriculum that takes this into account as much as the content of a class. This should happen by the sixth grade.
  2. Diminish the power of teachers’ unions and require a longer period of mentoring for teachers.
  3. It is believed by some researchers that a school with 400 students is ideal. Our High Schools with 2500 students are not conducive to a strong education. Every student above 400 reduces the quality of education. So we should never have a school exceed 400 students. Students can learn rather than be policed.
  4. Go for vouchers that would mean at least half of all students would go to private schools.
  5. Make it easier for home schooling to integrate with formal schools.
  6. Drop the 12th grade and turn it into either a votech program or your first year of college in a junior college format for free. Student’s won’t owe so much for college in this case.
  7. Consider dropping some college degrees to just three years.
  8. Offer more charter schools with emphasis on career directions and learning styles.
  9. Have uniforms grades 1 to 10. Too many kids are from homes that can’t afford nice clothes and they get type cast by their outward appearance rather than their work at their education.
  10. Have schools provide iPads and/or computers at cost to all students and have subsidies for those who can’t afford one. And have all school supplies provided by the schools. Here again more affluent students have an advantage.
  11. Reevaluate all curriculum and put new classes on line quicker dealing with new marketplace realities.
  12. Create in our schools a culture that tells the truth about the impact of marijuana on schools and students.
  13. Offer more self-directed courses.
  14. Pay more attention to basic writing and math. It is surprising to me the number of people who struggle with the basics. Maybe even go pass fail and require the basics be taken until the students show levels of high proficiency.
  15. Consider year around school.
  16. Also offer night school classes so students who need to work can in High School. Our kids in America do not learn a work ethic early enough in their lives. I grew up in a farm town and in those days you would work as soon as you could hold a shovel not so today and it has hurt us. This would also make 400 student schools more economical. You could have two schools in one that never see each other. And drops who often drop out due to finances would be able to complete their education while employed.
  17. Allow teachers to work year around with vacation and be paid more money accordingly.
  18. Have major corporations get tax credit for putting colleges and high school within their corporate setting. Mercedes does this in Germany. They have a Mercedes University right on the site of the factory. And it isa very highly sought out experience by students and Mercedes get some hands on mentored employees.
  19. Take the requirement of learning foreign languages more seriously especially Spanish.
  20. Deploy the Japanese style of group learning as much as possible. Students have been shown to get higher grades and learn much more in this style of learning. Graduate schools use learning cohorts with great success.
Ok – so put my name in for king and we are in for some great moves forward educationally.

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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

How You Know You Are In A Bad Church

I hold several unorthodox views when it comes to church starts and designs. One, I am not persuaded many if not most churches are suppose to last more than 20 to 30 years. I might be wrong but I am persuaded. Two, I am pretty sue the sermon centric church might not be the best model. Lot’s of talk about vision is usually about the ego of the leader(s). I am pretty sure most churches just need some faith inspiring goals every year. We will be ashamed in 30 years by the way the church has treated women. We are reaching a world in our minds that ceased to exist 55 years ago. We don’t know what to do in a mostly pagan culture. We spend way too much energy hanging to buildings and little is left for loving the lost. We need many different new forms of what a church looks like. I am pretty sure the board ran church is a cultural reflection of American society rather than a form true to the bible.

And the percentage of abusive leaders is on the rise from my anecdotal viewpoint. Many people are actually unraveling spiritual because of the need many leaders have to control. The size of church has little to do with this. It’s too bad we can’t have a reporting systems that leaders could sign up for showing their compliance with basic Christian behavior.

Here some signs you are in the wrong church:

  1. The church defines discipleship by conforming to the needs and system of the church.
  2. The Bible isn’t taught with careful use of the scriptures – if a communicator only uses the Bible to confirm their ideas you aren’t being expose to the Bible.
  3. There is no transparency about the income and expenditures of the church. Everyone should at least know how much comes in and how much the spending of money is taking place.
  4. Many times if the pastor’s wife is a paid member of the staff. Sometimes this is good but make sure it isn’t just a way to double dip.
  5. The Pastor lives extremely higher than the successful church member.
  6. If the pastor and leader don’t have a system for receiving valid criticism.
  7. If the church talks about “covering” or “the visionary” of the church. Some MIGHT be ok but if it is chronic they are trying t control you.
  8. If the Pastor clearly has a posse he hangs with. Not just friends but people who have status in the church because they hang with the Pastor.
  9. If the church talks about giving and money evens slightly in sermons more than every other month. If they talk more you can count on it the church isn’t being managed well.
  10. If there is a constant turn over of staff or leaders.
  11. If there is an elaborate multi-season membership process. If so they are again trying to tighten control.
  12. If the church won’t report back on special offerings for missions etc…
  13. If the church doesn’t have a yearly outside audit.
  14. If no one is every receiving Christ in the services.
  15. If you friends won’t come back a second time on a regular basis.
  16. If the vision and goals of the church are only about numbers and how much and not about character and inner qualities.
  17. If the leader ever lies to the church run for the hills because its a life style if it has gotten the pint of doing it publicly.
  18. If the church never has outside speakers.
  19. If the building debt is beyond 25 or 30% of income. The church will be in jeopardy.
  20. If the pastor and leaders tried to be cute and trendy. Church about honesty, simplicity and substance.
  21. If you children hate their classes on Sunday morning.
  22. If shamming and shunning is used on people who leave, sin or question.
  23. If the church has more than two meetings a week. They are trying to keep you tied into meetings and the control of the church. Church isn’t meetings.
  24. if the staff is poorly paid but the pastor is well paid. This is a disreputable treatment of people.
  25. Divorced people are scorned on.
  26. When people leave they aren’t prayed for and loved and trusted that they have heard God. Or you should listen totem and at least consider their reasons. But never go to a church that makes those who don’t want to stay into evil people.
  27. If you have a pastor that has no real accountability and oversight.
  28. If the pastor talks constantly about rebellion, making more money, people who hurt them, loyalty. Run they are up to no good.
  29. If your leaders are shop-o-holics. Sometime they will have a tragedy in their believability.
  30. If the church never brings in outside consultation.
  31. If the pastor ever talks about being national not matter how big the church.