Jul 3, 2015

One of the Hardest, But Best Habits You Can Form as a Leader

There's a habit that's key to pushing yourself mentally and physically.  Numerous studies show that it's one of the most important habits you can develop to transform your life. 

It will make you healthier, happier, and better able to sleep; it can boost your memory, concentration, and mental sharpness.

What is the habit?  EXERCISE

High level leaders know this and exercise.  Here are a few examples...
  • The President exercises 6 days a week, 45 minutes a day.
  • Richard Branson swims, does rock climbing, running, and weightlifting.  He says it gives him at least four additional hours of productivity each day.
  • Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue, wakes up every morning at 5:45 a.m. to play tennis.
  • Panera Bread CEO, Ron Shaich, confessed to being "a couch potato," but said he "made a commitment to lose weight and increase his fitness level" in his 50s to "keep up mentally and physically with the demands of a growing business."  To force himself to work out, Shaich employs a trainer. The workout consists of running or swimming in his indoor or outdoor pool for one hour, two to three times a week. 
  • Nick Woodman, CEO of Go Pro, is an avid surfer, snowboarder, and mountain biker.
  • Frits van Paaschen, chief of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, gets up at 6:00 am to run 10 miles every day.
  • Michael Corbat, CEO of Citigroup, works out with weights to stay sharp.
  • Kat Cole, CEO of Focus Brands, gets up at 5:30 am to excersise.
  • Aaron Patzer, founder of mint.com, lifts weights, runs, and rock climbs to stay fit.
I can personally attest to the difference exercise makes.  It has helped me lose 50 lbs., relieves stress, helps me sleep better and gives me energy.  Do I enjoy it?  Not really, but 6 days a week I hit the gym.  The benefits are worth maintaining the habit. 

If you aren't exercising, I want to encourage you to consider starting.  You'll be glad you did. 

If you exercise, inspire others to start by listing what you do in the comment section below.

Jul 2, 2015

The Post - Christian Generation...How You Can Reach Them

I recently heard a pastor say, "We do not live in a Christian nation.  We live in a nation that has some Christians in it...but it is not a Christian nation."

Whether you agree with that statement or not, it is evident that we are quickly sliding away from being able to classify ourselves as a "Christian nation."  Yes...it still says "In God We Trust" on our currency, but fewer people seem to actually be trusting in God. 

Consider this...
  • 4% do not believe in God
  • 8% identify as agnostic or atheist
  • 13% disagree that faith is important
  • 18% do not pray
  • 27% have never made a commitment to Jesus
  • 29% disagree that the Bible is accurate
  • 32% have not donated money to a church
  • 33% have not attended a church
  • 41% agree that Jesus committed sins
  • 47% do not feel a responsibility to share their faith
  • 57% have not read the Bible
  • 79% have not volunteered at church
  • 81% have not attended "Sunday School"
  • 81% have not attended a small group
  • 89% have not participated in a house church
The startling realization is that each generation is becoming more post-Christian.  The Mosaics (ages 18-28) are 48% post-Christian compared to the Busters (ages 29-47) who are at 40%.  If this pattern continues, the generation of kids we are trying to reach will be even more post-Christian.

Don't let these stats depress you.  God is still at work...in an amazing way.  Some of the greatest churches in the history of our nation are being built right now and they are doing it by reaching post-Christians.

Here's what it takes...

Unbelievers want to see Christians that are genuine.  Not perfect...but with a sincere faith that translates into every area of their lives.  Nothing validates a person's faith more than living it out every day.

No one wants to give their lives to misery.  When believers look like they were baptized in pickle juice, who would want to be a Christ-follower?  We must let the joy of the Lord rule our hearts so people can see it in our faces and be attracted to it.

The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts of sin and draws people to the Father.  As we spend time with God, His anointing falls upon our lives and empowers us to reach people.  Take a look at some of the churches that are effectively reaching people and you will see that it's not because of their talent or cool music or hip pastors...it's because of the anointing of God resting upon their ministry.  Above  all else, beg...beg...beg...beg...beg...beg for God to anoint your ministry.

Are you willing to accept people where they are?  Can alcoholics, adulterers, people living together, homosexuals, drug addicts, agnostics, prostitutes, thieves, etc. come and feel loved and welcome?  Will you give them time and space to belong before they believe?  Notice I didn't say "approve" but "accept."  There is a difference.

In past generations, the public in general had some knowledge of the Bible.  But as we move farther and farther away from Christianity as a nation, you will find that people have little to no knowledge of God's Word.  You will have to start at square one, teaching them who God is and how He sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem us.

As the culture around us gets darker with each passing generation, the brighter the light of the Gospel can shine.  The Gospel is what changes lives.  It is the hope for the world!  Our greatest opportunities to share the Gospel and reach people area ahead.

The Post-Christian Generation...yes...you can reach them.  The Gospel still works if we will acquaint people with it.

Jul 1, 2015

Atheist Kids...They Exist...They Can Be Reached

A few weeks ago, a girl who had been brought to our church by a friend, told us she is an atheist.  She was very clear that she did not believe in God or what we were teaching.

This is not as uncommon as you might think.  Atheism is on the rise...even making it's way into the hearts of kids.  This is due to four primary factors. 

#1 - Parental influence.  The number one influence in a child's life is his or her parents.  1 out of every 4 unchurched adults are agnostics or atheists.  As the percentage of adults who are atheists goes up, the natural outcome is the percentage of children who are atheists goes up.  Add to that the fact that the largest percentage of atheists are under 30.  These young adults are and will be the parents of the next generation of kids.  As goes parents...so goes children.

#2 - Rejection of the Bible.  Interesting enough, a large percentage of skeptics had some regular exposure to the Bible as children.  But at some point in their life they have chosen to reject it as God's Word and not submit to its authority in their lives.

#3 - Lack of trust for the local church.  Interesting statistic - 2/3rds of skeptics have attended church in the past...most for an extended period of time.  But church scandals and abuse has turned many of them away from belief in God.  Since the church is a tangible expression of faith for most people, when it becomes overtly flawed, it flaws their faith.

#4 - Cultural reinforcement of a secular worldview.  This is a huge factor.  Humanism and postmodernism engulfs many children through media, school, celebrities, friends, social media, political messaging and more.  The website www.kidswithouGod.com is a great example of kids being targeted by atheists.
Recently, the area of the country I minister in was voted the #1 "never-churched" area in the country. We are surrounded by kids and families who are not believers...and so are you.   

So how are we going to reach them?

We must keep our focus outward.  The issue is not how many people attend your church.  The issue is how many people in your area do not attend church anywhere.  That's the number that should keep us up at night.  Yes...we have a lot of people attending our church...but it's a drop in the bucket when you consider the 1.5 million people in our area who do not attend church anywhere.  If we are going to reach unbelievers, we must focus our attention on the Great Commission.  The Gospel still works, if we will work the Gospel. 

Our campus in New York City actually meets in an atheist church building...right across the street from Central Park.  Yes...you read it right...an atheist "church."  I guess they get together to talk about "nothing."  Anyways, they meet on the 3rd floor and we meet on the 2nd floor.  Cool thing...several atheist have accidentally walked into our service, stayed and came to faith in Jesus! 

We must reach parents.  As previously stated...atheist kids come from atheist parents.  Reach parents and you will reach their kids.  I talk more about how to reach parents in this previous post.

We must equip our kids to share their faith and bring their unbelieving friends to church.  Kids can reach kids who are unbelievers.  Just this past weekend, an elementary boy was baptized who had been brought to church by his friend.  Kids can reach kids if we give them the tools they need.

We must pray.  Prayer can melt a heart of unbelief through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I have see Him do it.  I am thinking right now of three people who were hardened atheists that I have personally seen come to faith in Christ.  

Will you join me in praying for the little girl I told you about at the beginning of this post?  Will you join me in praying for kids and families across the country and around the world who do not believe in Jesus yet?

Yes...kid atheists exists...I've met them...and yes...they can be reached.

Jun 30, 2015

Should Guns Be Used to Protect Children's Ministries?

The recent horrific church shooting in Charleston, SC causes us once again to ponder the question, "Should guns be used to protect children's ministries?"

Many churches ban concealed weapons.  They say it goes against religious teachings of non-violence and that guns shouldn't be in a place of worship.  They argue that God's response to violence is never greater violence.  And many states specifically ban guns in church.

But a number of states have recently passed laws allowing concealed weapons in churches.  Approximately 25 states now allow concealed carry weapons in churches.

Personally,  I believe it is vital to protect your children's ministry.  Here's what that looks like for us.
  • An armed police officer is present in our children's ministry area during all weekend services.  This person is hired and in uniform.
  • Everyone must present a printed ID badge before being allowed to enter a children's ministry area.
  • Once service begins, all children's ministry areas are locked down. 
  • We have a volunteer security team that patrols all areas.  Many of these are police officers or former police officers who carry a concealed weapon.  
  • For clarity - none of the people mentioned above come into the children's ministry rooms.  They are outside the door or in the hallways.  I would never recommend having someone with a concealed weapon inside the room with the kids. 
Whether you believe guns should be used to protect our children's ministries or not, one thing we do agree on.  Safety and security must be a top priority.  Why?  First and foremost to protect our children and volunteers.  Secondly, parents want to know that their kids are safe at church.  I honestly think a parent seeing a uniformed officer in the children's area is a factor in them returning.  It shows you take the security of the children very seriously and value them.

What do you believe?  Should guns be used to protect children's ministries?  Do you have people who are armed present in your children's ministry areas?  Weigh in and share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Jun 29, 2015

Winners of "The Gospel Truth About Children's Ministry" Book Announced

The winners of the "Gospel Truth About Children's Ministry" book are Chasten Hendricks and Jennica Mosser.  Chasten is the Children's Pastor at Lighthouse World Outreach Center in Monroe, GA.  Jennica is the Director of Elementary Ministries at Highlands Community Church in Renton, WA.   Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who entered.  Stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon.