GRACE Gets Things Done

5 Steps to Getting Things Done for God's Glory

GRACE

“I don’t need to be productive, I need to be Godly.”  That is a constant refrain I get from church planters that I coach.  They want to read their bible, prepare sermons, and hang out in coffee shops.  There is nothing wrong with those things, but the work of church planting is SOOOO much more than that and requires productivity.  I try to remind them that the grace that saves and sanctifies us also works in us to be productive.

Remember 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 

 

God’s grace towards us causes us to be Godly and that includes being productive for God’s glory.

The Origin of My System

I became a Christian when I was 16, a week before my 17th birthday. I started a bible study at my high school. Through that I felt called into ministry.  I told my parents, they told me they disagreed. The next year, my senior year, we started the bible study again and saw 30 people cross the line of faith and connect to a church. I talked to my parents again about going to pursue a bible degree and they relented.  They said I had to go to an extraordinarily conservative Christian college. I didn’t know anything about the school, but was just excited to go.

When I showed up on campus for freshman orientation I was given a student handbook, no big deal. Every place has rules. Then I got the dorm handbook.  I thought sure there are extra rules it’s a Christian school. Then I got a society handbook, then we got a sports handbook then we got a chapel rules sheet then another rule book for student government.

Then I learned that I was accountable for all the rules before classes started. That’s when demerits would start. I asked what demerits were. They explained the what happened.

  • 75 Demerits = Socialed.  Essentially, no contact with the opposite sex on campus.
  • 100 Demerits = Campused.  Students at this level weren’t allowed off campus except for church or approved ministry.
  • 150 Demerits = Expelled.  If you got to 150 demerits in a semester you were out.

Time to Get Serious

That’s when I got serious. I needed to get out, but needed the degree.  I figured my shelf life there may be 4 years but more likely I’d blow up by then. So one Friday night I sold out to the idea: I must graduate in 3 years. I sat down with the course books, an outdated idea today, and started looking and working.  I went through multiple iterations, but by bed time (yes that was a real thing) I’d worked it out.

I started in the fall of 1999 and in June of 2002 I graduated with a BA in Bible and a double minor in Counseling and Computer Science without any debt. How?  I learned the importance of envisioning a goal and attacking it.  Since then I’ve developed a way to attack any problem.

Church planting is one giant cornucopia of problems to solve.  My system has gotten a workout over and over again as we planted our church.  It has been tested and we’ve found it to be a helpful tool as we deal with problem solving inside of CityView.

The Productive GRACE system for problem solving and planning

1) Get serious about the vision

  • Ask: What is the preferred reality?
  • Write out what it looks like. This doesn’t need to be complete, but what would it look like if the problem was solved. Frequently, the biggest issue with dealing with a problem is clearly seeing what it should look like.  We get caught up with 1000 “what if” scenarios and that is counterproductive.  Sit down and write out what the problem would look like if it were solved.

2) Required resources 

  • Ask: What resources do I need to accomplish this vision?
  • Assemble the named resources. Do you need leaders?  Do you need tools?  Do you need advice?  Who do you need advice from?  You want to get the resources together to solve the problem.

3) Author a plan

  • Ask: What does this look like specifically.
  • Write down a specific plan. This is taking the preferred reality and flushing it out. Put it down on paper or your digital note taking software.  If it is a large plan consider using milestones and due dates.  Make a timeline and begin to implement the plan.

4) Consistently execute the plan

  • Ask: What do I need to DO right now to make this plan move forward?
  • Keep asking this question repetitively. In church planting, problems are sometimes quick fixes, but are frequently long term and require consistently asking the question, what do I need to do today to make sure that the plan is being carried out.

5) Effectively adapt to changes

  • Ask: What are the changes that are taking place that could change my plan?
  • Things happen.  Change is going to be necessary along the way. As a church planter it feels like as soon as you have a plan down some dynamic changes.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a plan.  It just means that you figure out how to account for it.

 

I thought it might be helpful to share a problem that we were facing earlier this year and how we worked through it using this GRACE method.

 

The Problem: We were dealing with a lack of communication from our staff.  When we did communicate it would be through a massive group text message with 8 people on it.  This was a huge thread of gifs, emojis, real issues to deal with, and inside jokes. Further, we couldn’t keep track of answers, who was doing what, and when assignments were due.  The thread was entertaining, but painfully inefficient.

The problem was exacerbated because we only had a very small office and mostly volunteer or VERY part-time staff with limited time availability.  I wasn’t sure what our staff was doing day-to-day.  I didn’t want to micromanage, but I did want to make sure they were working and accomplishing their area of ministry.

We weren’t communicating effectively and our conversations weren’t logged in a way that we could go back and find our questions and answers well.

I broke it down like this:

  • The Preferred Reality:

    We needed a way to communicate and collaborate as a staff on a daily basis without having to be physically present with each other. We also needed a way to catalog the conversations we were having so we could find our decisions, assignments, and plans.  I’m a techie and had an inkling that the easiest way to solve this problem was through an app that might enable threaded communication.  The preferred reality was to find an app that solved our communication issues.

  • The Required Resources:

    I talked to our staff and shared the problem and got their input. I also talked to several other church planter friends who were in similar situations and found out what they were doing to overcome the problem.  Additionally, I did a google search to find apps that were collaborative communication tools.  One resource came up over and over again as useful tool, Slack.  I downloaded the app and did some YouTube training on it.

  • Author a Plan:

    The plan was simple. Everyone download the app and move all staff communications to Slack.  This meant setting up multiple channels for our staff communication.  We setup the channels that made sense to us: worship, groups, video production, finance, etc.  This was the only place where we wanted these conversations to take place.   The only people in those channels were those who were necessary to the conversation.

  • Consistently Execute the Plan:

    This was slightly more difficult. We had lived in the text world for 3 years.  That was what we were used to.  We still were texting on the thread.  I had to effectively shut that thread down.  Whenever anyone would text there about a church related issue I’d text back, “SLACK!”  Within about a month all of our church related conversations were moved.  Occasionally, people still revert to texting.  They still get the familiar “SLACK!” comment and I receive a notification in Slack with a tongue in cheek apology.

  • Effectively Adapt to Changes:

    As we used the app we saw a need for multiple conversations and for some to be hidden. Not everyone needed to know what was going on in each thread.  Some of them needed to be locked down.  We developed new channels and discovered the way to make certain channels private.  This change made private and sensitive communication possible for us.

 

Conclusion

This is just one example of a way that we have utilized the GRACE system to solve problems in our ministry.  I use the same system to create annual goals, address confusing situations, and stay focused on what’s next while working towards our vision.  Whether you are trying to wrap up a degree early, deal with a staff issue, or just address become more productive the GRACE system can work for you.

Before Attacking Problems: Pray – 3 Reasons Among Many

Pray First

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I wrote earlier this week on my Productive GRACE system.

  1. Get serious about the vision
  2. Required resources
  3. Author a plan
  4. Consistently execute the plan
  5. Effectively adapt to changes

This is the way that I attack problems in everyday life.  The system is scalable and works for long term goals and short term goals alike.  I’m following it up with a few posts that dive in more specifically.  However, there is a pre-step.  The pre-step is prayer.  Pray First!  Prayer is a great gift that believers in Jesus don’t fall on enough.  It almost seems silly to write a list of reasons why we should pray about problems, but I think sometimes we all need reminders and at the very least I need the reminder (and this is my blog).

3 Reasons to Pray First

 

1) We are commanded to pray

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4.6)

When we are anxious, which is what I am when a problem arises, we are told to pray.  I’ve often heard this verse summarized in this way, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything”.  Pray about the thing that is on your mind and heart.  A loving father wants to hear from his children and specifically about those things that are making their hearts worry.  Pray.

2) Prayer brings peace

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Talking to my loving Father who also is the Sovereign God of all creation brings peace.  This peace goes beyond our mental capacities to understand, but it is truly there.  The next time you are anxious about some problem or goal, pray about it.

3) Prayer puts things in perspective

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

When we pray about our anxious moments we are reminded that there is something greater than our worries or goals.  There is God’s Kingdom.  Those goals and worries shouldn’t be our first priority.  God’s Kingdom coming is the thing that matters most.  We need to capture perspective.

 

Next we’ll deal with what to do when there are problems.  However, before we talk about attacking problems why don’t you spend some significant time praying about those problems.  Let me point you to Philippians 4:4-7 and Matthew 6:25-34 for some further reading and study.

Productive Grace: 5 Steps To Attack Any Problem

Productive Grace

The grace that saves us also sanctifies us.  That grace also makes us productive.  Remember 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 

Over the next several blog posts, I’m going to share my scalable system to frame up and attack any problem.  It is just as applicable to long range, multi-year goals as it is to attacking daily scheduling issues.

 

The Origin of My System

I became a Christian when I was 16, a week before my 17th birthday. I started a bible study at my high school. Through that I felt called into ministry.  I told my parents, they told me they disagreed. The next year, my senior year, we started the bible study again and saw 30 people cross the line of faith and connect to a church. I talked to my parents again about going to pursue a bible degree and they relented.  They said I had to go to Bob Jones University. I didn’t know anything about the school, but was just excited to go.

When I showed up on campus for freshman orientation I was given a student handbook, no big deal. Every place has rules. Then I got the dorm handbook.  I thought sure there are extra rules it’s a Christian school. Then I got a society handbook, then we got a sports handbook then we got a chapel rules sheet then another rule book for student government.

Then I learned that I was accountable for all the rules before classes started. That’s when demerits would start. I asked what demerits were. They explained the what happened.

  • 75 Demerits = Socialed.  Essentially, no contact with the opposite sex on campus.
  • 100 Demerits = Campused.  Students at this level weren’t allowed off campus except for church or approved ministry.
  • 150 Demerits = Expelled.  If you got to 150 demerits in a semester you were out.

 

Time to Get Serious

That’s when I got serious. I needed to get out, but needed the degree.  I figured my shelf life there may be 4 years but more likely I’d blow up by then. So one Friday night I sold out to the idea: I must graduate in 3 years. I sat down with the course books, an outdated idea today, and started looking and working.  I went through multiple iterations, but by bed time (yes that was a real thing) I’d worked it out.

I started in the fall of 1999 and in June of 2002 I graduated with a BA in Bible na double minor in Counseling and Computer Science without any debt. How?  I learned the importance of envisioning a goal and attacking it.  Since then I’ve developed a way to attack any problem.

 

The Productive GRACE system for problem solving and planning

The grace that saves us also sanctifies us.  That grace also makes us productive.  Remember 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 

1) Get serious about the vision

  • Ask: What is the preferred reality?
  • Write out what it looks like.

2) Required resources 

  • Ask: What resources do I need to accomplish this vision.
  • Assemble the named resources.

3) Author a plan

  • Ask: What does this look like specifically.
  • Write down a specific plan.

4) Consistently execute the plan

  • Ask: What do I need to DO right now to make this plan move forward?
  • Keep asking this question repetitively.

5) Effectively adapt to changes

  • Ask: What are the changes that are taking place that could change my plan?
  • Things happen.  Change is going to be necessary along the way.

 

Over the next few posts I’m going to break down each of these pieces to look long range and also short term.  Check it out frequently.

Hello, I Am A Nobody

3 Thoughts On The Ministry Of Everyday Pastors

nobody

 

The first chapter in John’s Gospel records the story of Jesus calling a set of brothers to follow him. These brothers were fishermen.

  • One of them went on to be the spokesmen of the disciples.  The other didn’t.
  • One of these brothers was the first to confess that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  The other stood by while it happened.
  • One of these brothers went on to preach on the day of Pentecost and saw 3,000 people saved.  The other was also doing amazing things that day, just not preaching the big sermon.
  • One of these brothers went on to lead the church, write inspired Scripture, and have stories told of his martyrdom.  The other did miracles and made disciples faithfully.

Peter was the first brother. He’s frequently characterized as a bold, powerful, strong, and notable leader although a little rash and brash at times.  Peter is amazing.  So is his brother Andrew…  Andrews are important too.  Andrews are the everyday pastor who leads an everyday church and faithfully leads people to Jesus, disciples them, and cares for the church.  Andrews are nobodies and nobodies matter.

 

 

Nobodies Matter

 

1) The vast majority of churches are pastored by Andrews-Types

Most of the people in the world are under the ministry of Andrew-Type pastors.  Andrew-Types shepherd most of Jesus’ disciples.  Unassuming leaders who help to proclaim the Kingdom’s advance play a vital role in the growth of the church.  They are gifted.  They are equippers of the saints.  They don’t get asked to be on the big stages or TV or radio, but they are doing ministry.

 

 

2) The burden of celebrity destroys many faithful men

There are many famous pastors and Christian leaders who have continued to be faithful men of God.  I thank God for the men like Billy Graham, John Piper, Tony Evans, and David Jeremiah (and many others).  They are famous Peter-Types who live for Jesus and not for their own fame.  However, for every one of those guys there are 10 others who started out working hard for the fame of Jesus, their platform expanded, and somewhere along the line something switched and the power of their own celebrity began to control them.  I like what the political pundit, James Carville says, “When you become famous, being famous becomes your profession.” I think in many ways that is what has happened to celebrity pastors.

  • Sometimes this results in major falls from grace with men drifting into deep sin issues.
  • Sometimes their ministry continues and their platform expands, but they are worried about building their kingdom rather than Christ’s.

Faithfulness is a better aim than fame.

 

 

3) Contentment is key

I think a lot of the problem is that a lot of Andrew-types want to be Peter-types.  They haven’t made peace with the fact that they are special because they’ve been called by a King, not because they’ve been called to be a king.  Everyday Pastors matter.  We aren’t all Spurgeon or Billy Graham or Matt Chandler.  We are nobodies. There is nothing wrong with being nobodies.  Nobodies accomplish a lot for the Kingdom.  We have to deny ourselves.  We have to relinquish our fame desires for the sake of Christ’s fame.

 

This post is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

Every Church Planter Needs: A Coach

Part 3 of a 3 part series on the people that every church planter needs

 

Ever since we planted CityView Church in 2014 we’ve gotten multiple questions about what church planters need.  Aside from a strong and growing relationship with Jesus, the support of their spouse, Kingdom dollars invested in their plant or team members to join their core team, I always tell them that every planter needs three people who speak into their lives that help them plant in a healthy manner.  Every planter needs 3 specific people.  This blog series will share the three people that every church planter needs in his life.

Coach

Every church planter needs a coach.  It is easy for church planters to get bogged down in minutia of church life and church planting issues.  The coach cheers the planter on and pushes him when he isn’t accomplishing all that he could.  The coach is someone that the planter should pay for his time.  I have paid as little as $100/month, but am currently receiving coaching for $250/month.  My first coach was Sam Douglass.  I am currently coached by Brian Howard

Every church planter needs someone to get in their face a little when they aren’t doing what they should.  They also need someone outside of the situation to point out issues in what is going on within the church.  The coach can do this important work.

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Greatest Value

The most valuable thing a coach can do is drill down deep on a single issue that the planter is having, ask questions, and cause the planter to process through the issue out loud with someone else.  The coach can ask questions with little knowledge of the situation and bring in a different perspective to help the planter correct his actions.

 

How Do I Find One?

Your denomination or network should have some sort of coaching network setup or be able to point you in the right direction.  Contact the church plant leadership in your network or denomination and they’ll help you find a good one.  If worse comes to worse, I coach planters regularly to help them work through the early days of planting and thinking through how they can multiply.  I’d be happy to help, you can contact me here.

 

This series is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

 

 

Every Church Planter Needs: A Counselor

Part 2 of a 3 part series on the people that every church planter needs

Counselor

Ever since we planted CityView Church in 2014 we’ve gotten multiple questions about what church planters need.  Aside from a strong and growing relationship with Jesus, the support of their spouse, Kingdom dollars invested in their plant or team members to join their core team, I always tell them that every planter needs three people who speak into their lives that help them plant in a healthy manner.  Every planter needs 3 specific people.  This blog series will share the three people that every church planter needs in his life.

Counselor

Every church planter needs a counselor.  Church planting is hard work and is wrought with frequent discouragement.  Church planters need a counselor.  To be clear this is someone that you pay.  Be it a licensed Christian counselor, biblical counselor, or the like this is someone you pay for their time and their expertise that hears the struggles and pains that the planter has and points them towards the Lord and His Word.

Greatest Value

The most valuable thing a counselor can do is help the planter feel heard in the many struggles and hurts that he will experience.  The counselor needs to help the planter identify detrimental thought patterns and behaviors and point him towards healthy, gospel-centered ones as he deals with the ups and downs of planting.  This person is doing soul-care for the planter.

 

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What Will People Think?

My short answer is, WHO CARES?  I know you need a counselor.  I bet you know you need a counselor.  Who cares what someone else thinks?  However, because a stigma exists about counseling, and you may have some feelings about it yourself, realize that you don’t have to tell anyone that you are seeing a counselor.  This doesn’t need to be a thing that is broadcast openly if you are worried about it.  It can be as private as you want it to be.

 

 

How Do I Find One?

We use a counseling service called, Better Days here in Houston.  They were recommended to us, but they are part of the Association of Biblical Counselors, a group we know and trust.  If that isn’t your tribe then Google counseling for pastors in your general area and you will find someone.  I’m proud of my denomination for offering care for pastors.  Check it out here.

 

This series is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

 

 

Every Church Planter Needs: A Mentor

Part 1 of a 3 part series on the people that every church planter needs

Mentor

Ever since we planted CityView Church in 2014 we’ve gotten multiple questions about what church planters need.  Aside from a strong and growing relationship with Jesus, the support of their spouse, Kingdom dollars invested in their plant or team members to join their core team, I always tell them that every planter needs three people who speak into their lives that help them plant in a healthy manner.  Every planter needs 3 specific people.  This blog series will share the three people that every church planter needs in his life.

Mentor

Every church planter needs a mentor.  They need someone who has gone before them and done similar work to what they are attempting to do now.  The mentor is so important because he lets the planter know that what they are attempting is possible.  He brings encouragement on a regular basis.

 

Greatest Value

The most valuable thing a mentor can share is their experiences, both good and bad.  This authenticity helps the planter know that at the end of the day there is hope.  The mentor shows the planter that no matter how difficult it gets you can come out on the other side.  The mentor can provide a target for the planter to aim for over the course of their ministry.

There is definite value in having several mentors in the planter’s life that might be able to address different issues at different times in areas related to church life cycle, attendance trends, and family. In many ways, a mentor is a pastor to a church planter. I have been blessed to have a couple of these amazing men in my life as I planted, Greg Pickering of Brazos Pointe Fellowship in Lake Jackson, TX and Bruce Wesley of Clear Creek Community Church in League City, TX.

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How Do I Find One?

You find a mentor by thinking about the people in your life who have started like you have and have a track record that you respect.  Think beyond your peer group.  Look to a generation older than you.  You narrow down on one or two guys and then you take them to lunch or coffee and ask them to mentor you.  You will find that quality men want to be asked to do this type of thing.  They want to reproduce themselves in other young leaders.

 

How Do I Become One?

Greg Pickering became my mentor when he found me at a fellowship meeting for our county and said, “Hi Jason, I’m Greg, I’m you in 20 years”.  Younger generations desperately want the tutelage of those who have gone before.  You have a lot to share.  Look around at young guys in your pastoral circles and make an investment.

 

This series is drawn from my book, Proliferate, A Church Planting Strategy for Everyday Churches.  If you haven’t already you can pick it up from Amazon (Paperback or Kindle) or Barnes & Noble (Paperback or Nook).

 

 

Excited to be on the Battle Cry Revival Podcast on March 27, 2017.  We’ll be talking about my book Proliferate, church planting, and general Life Hacks.  Release date will be posted soon.

Date: March 27, 2017
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Appearance: Battle Cry Revival Podcast
Outlet: Battle Cry Revival
Location: Alvin, TX
Format: Podcast

Goals Need to be RELEVANT

Tips to help make your goals relevant

Relevant

You may want to watch every new movie on Netflix, but unless you are a internet TV blogger it isn’t relevant to your personal growth.  Your goals need to be relevant to who you want to be over a lifetime.

You need to have goals that are relevant to your station in life and your own growth. When you write a goal it needs to be relevant to some greater purpose that you have. It has to have meaning behind it.  The goal needs to hold meaning for you.  When a goal is relevant then you have motivation to keep pushing towards it when the excitement has worn off.  I love this quote by Viktor Frankl

“Those who have a ‘why’ can bear with almost any ‘how’.

Tips to help you clarify

  • Where do you want to be in 10 years? 5 years? 3 years?  Does the goal help you get there?
  • Why is this goal important to you?   Should it be?
  • What are the benefits of this goal for your long term growth and development.

 

Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.

SPECIFIC
MEASURABLE
ACHIEVABLE
RELEVANT
TIME BOUND
EVALUATE
SHARE
TAILOR

Goals Need to be TIME BOUND

Tips to make your goals time bound

time

Goals have to have a definite starting point and ending point.  I work really well with a deadline.  I want to know when something needs to be completed.  Time matters when it comes to writing goals.  Most of the goals I’ve talked about are annual.  They could all have an end date of 12/31 or if you are following the way I do my goals then 1/31.  Time bound is essential for working through the progressive necessity of goals.  You may want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, but you aren’t going to come to December 30th and see how you’re doing on your weight loss goal.  Set monthly and weekly time bound sub goals that help you attain your goal progressively.

 

Tips to help you clarify

  • Is your goal an annual goal?  Should it be a 2 year goal or longer?
  • What are some milestones associated with your goal?
  • How can you break it up into quarterly, monthly or weekly chunks?

Click on one of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals elements below to jump to a more specific description of that area.  Click here to get an overview of the S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. Goals system.

SPECIFIC
MEASURABLE
ACHIEVABLE
RELEVANT
TIME BOUND
EVALUATE
SHARE
TAILOR