Church Growth Podcast

Episode #15 – Running from the Spotlight, Healthy Leadership, & Social Media Dangers with Pastor Brady Boyd

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Pastor Brady Boyd is the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs Colorado. Brady followed Ted Haggard at New Life and has spent the last decade preaching integrity, humility, and protecting your heart.

In our interview we talk about the dangers of the spotlight and social media for every leader, along with how to last and finish well in ministry. This is a great interview for any leader looking to lead long term.

Links mentioned in this podcast:

Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd –
Speak Life by Brady Boyd –
Pastor by Eugene Peterson –

Church Growth

5 Characteristics of Growing Churches

As the director of Next Level Coaching, I’ve had the privilege to visit many churches for on-site consulting. Pastors ask me to come and visit their church to provide a fresh perspective and offer simple solutions to help their church break through to the next level. On-site visits are a great way to move your church forward due to fresh eyes taking a look at your systems, service, and staff to see if there is a problem that you are missing because of familiarity.

Church Growth

10 Easter Planning Mistakes To Avoid + FREE Easter Planning Checklist Download

Easter weekend is fast approaching, and in most congregations, it is a time of celebration that brings worship services filled with enthusiasm and attendance larger than average. That’s a good thing, a really good thing. The chances are good that even without much promotion this Easter you will have a larger crowd than normal, whether it’s one visiting family or 100 visiting families, and knowing that should motivate you to plan the best most strategic services of the year. I’ve provided a free “Easter Planning Checklist” to help you and your church be ready for your biggest day of the year. Just provide your email address and I’ll email to you. In the process of planning, however, there are some mistakes you need to avoid, so with that in mind let me give you 10 mistakes to avoid when planning your Easter services this year.

Church Growth

Copier Codes, Adulterous Women, and Musicians Who Smoke

I worked at a church one time that required a code to make copies because some students had snuck into the office and made copies of their butts. I was the youth pastor.

After a meeting that felt like an act of Congress, the decision was made to put a security code in the printer so only authorized personal could make copies. I’m not entirely sure how much the butt copies cost the church but I’m fairly sure it cost more than the $99 service call for the printer company, but that’s beside the point.

This was one of those printers that I can only assume was made by NASA, you probably have one in your office, you know the one that can make copies, staple, and sort, and send a man to the moon, with a lease more expensive than the children’s budget.

The policy worked, it kept people from using the machine, even the people who needed to use it. Unintentionally the policy created a hurdle for legitimate users; every Sunday when the preschool teacher needed to make copies no one could find a representative with the launch codes.

Excuse my angst. I’ll be the first to admit I have some authority issues. It’s probably my biggest frustration with the Church. We love our rules and red tape. My sister in law visited church with me one time in Atlanta and left the sanctuary during the sermon to use the restroom. When she came out of the restroom, she was met by an usher with an earpiece who informed her she needed to refrain from leaving the sanctuary during service. She never came back.

We lock up the building like it’s a bank. We make it harder to join the church than join God’s kingdom. It’s never on purpose; we want to be good stewards. But often when we react we create restrictions. If you’ve ever worked at a church where one person had the key to the sound booth, you feel my pain.

Last summer our church got robbed twice in two weeks. Someone broke through the front glass door and stole $30,000 worth of equipment; it was infuriating. In response we did what we felt we had to do, we upgraded the security, added cameras and deadbolt locks. We almost added one of those buzzers that unlock the door from the receptionist’s desk, you know the one that sounds like you’re visiting someone in prison, but I just couldn’t do it. For me, it subliminally sent the message that we have to approve of you to let you in. I know I’m being simplistic and idealistic, but I’m allergic to barriers that keep people from God and church, even if they prevent theft.

I know what you’re thinking. You have to have some rules, right? Of course. But the tension between the spirit of the ministry of Jesus and the church structure should always be wrestled with.

There was a day when Jesus was confronted by a rule. A woman had been caught in the act of adultery, and the policy was public humiliation and death; He broke the rule, and here’s why. Jesus believed people were more important than policies. I’d be willing to bet you do too. It’s why you got into pastoral work, but somewhere along the way you began to lead defensively; sometimes disguised as responsibly.

Here’s the problem: tight policies make tight leaders!

Proverbs 14:4
“Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.”

I’ll be the first to admit as a church grows things have to change. It’s what scares me the most about leading a growing church. At our church, we try to have as few policies as possible. This makes for a messier church, with inconsistencies and double standards, but we try to take every situation on a case-by-case basis if possible. The problem with a policy is you might have to enforce it.

Fairness is overrated. Yes, drinks in the sanctuary may stain the carpet, but mean ushers stain the heart. The single pregnant mom may need to step down from working with the kids, but I’m not sure because I haven’t heard her story yet. Worship band members can’t smoke and have to be Christians, except maybe when it’s the husband we’ve been praying to come to church for four years, and he just said he might be interested in playing in the band. The spirit of the rule is more important than the rule.

If you’re doing it right, you’ll never get it right. You’ll wrestle with rules, and intent, people, and problems, but try not to stone adulterous women just because technically they deserve it, or miss out on lunch with Zaccheaus because it’s frowned upon. Every time you think of an idea that makes things simpler and easier, make sure it’s not making it easier for you but harder for the people you’re trying to reach. Embrace messy ministry.

Church Growth Podcast

Episode #05 – When Your Church Grows Slower Than You Want: An Interview with Marty Baker

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Excellent Pastor Podcast on iTunes

Marty Baker is the founder and lead pastor of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta GA. Over the last 30 years Stevens Creek has grown from a few people in a living room to a congregation of over 2000, but it took much longer than Pastor Marty hoped and believed it would.

We sat down to talk about the journey of Stevens Creek and the emotional ups and downs of planting and growing a church.

Church Growth

4 Things You Need To Do After Your Christmas Service

When I got home from our 3 Christmas services Sunday I crashed… I took like a 4 hour nap. I was exhausted! But after I woke up my mind wouldn’t shut off. Like always, I was critiquing the services and already thinking about next year. I’m sure I’m not the only one because that’s how we are (pastors I mean) On the newest episode of the Excellent Pastor Podcast I talk about 4 things you can do to maximise the impact of this year’s Christmas services and, as crazy as it sounds, go ahead and get ahead on planning next year’s services.

Click Here to listen and Subscribe on iTunes

Links mentioned in the podcast
2018 Preaching Calendar:…ching-calendar/

Connecting Guests with Free Software:…enter-workflow/

Buy a copy of Toxic Soul visit:

Follow Jason:

Church Growth

11 Things A Pastor Should Do If They Don’t Want To Reach Their Community

There are plenty of ways to fail to reach a community.  A lot of people view missions as something people do overseas.  As a result, they don’t see themselves as missionaries.  So, their pastoral roll is to caretake the fruit of a previous missionary.  Don’t be that guy or gal.

Assuming you are a missionary in your community pursuing mission aggressively, here are 11 things you should avoid doing:

1. Copy someone else’s church. 

Your community is unique. It vibes to it’s own rhythm. It has it’s own personality, past, and future.  It’s stresses and qualities are unique.  Yet, you’d rather build the church of your dreams than the church your community needs. A cool white guy church in the heart of Detroit or a southern Gospel church in South Dakota is silly, right? Yeah…but, a lot of people try to pull that kind of thing off. Don’t do it.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t build the church of YOUR dreams, build the church your community needs ” username=”travisjohnson73″]

2. Out kick your punt coverage.

You may have some great advertising ideas and be able to attract a massive crowd.  But, if you haven’t built systems of care capable of cultivating those people, you’ll shrink to whatever size your systems are equipped for.

3. Over promise. Under deliver. 

If you advertise the vision of who you want to be instead of who you are, people will come to see who you are and leave thinking you’re a fraud. They’ll tell their friends as well. So, avoid hype-filled words. Understate your strengths. And, wow people with a great experience. Then, they’ll walk away with a good story to tell their friends.

4. Be someone you’re not.

People have really good Bull-O-Meters. Be yourself.  You might be able to fake it for a little while. But, authenticity is the easiest note to play over the long haul.

5. Fudge it a little.

Tell the truth. If you hope to cultivate influence with your community, they have to be able to trust you.  If you play fast and loose with the truth, you’ll be dismissed in the long-term.

6. Value excellence more than multiplication.

You want things to be right? I do. Everyone does. That’s why sayings like “if you want something done right, do it yourself” come about. But, that’s the recipe for having a polished little organization.  If you can’t develop and deploy other leaders, you will be incapable of being anything more than a squad leader. So, hand the ball off even if it means someone might fumble. Just be there to encourage them to get back in the game if they fail.  And, be there to cheer for them when they get a first down.

7. Be afraid of insider language.

I know there’s a move to bring down our words to the lowest common denominator.  There is some logic in making things understandable.  The seeker sensitive movement was a response to a church culture that wasn’t speaking the language of the culture.  Seeker comprehensible is the better aim. Every tribe has it’s own language.  But, we’ve got to help people to know what is being communicated.  Use easily comprehensible words and symbols that define your tribe. But, avoid $2 words when a $.10 word is more handy.

8. Avoid conflict.

Pastors are famous for being conflict avoiders.  Don’t. Conflict helps define the vision. Conflict helps our words on paper translate into deeds-in-action.  If you aren’t willing to tow the line on the vision of the church, solid doctrine, or fair practices, then you shouldn’t be pastoring.  If you fail to conflict well and fairly, you’ll build a coalition…not a church.

[bctt tweet=”Conflict helps define the vision” username=”travisjohnson73″]

9. Spiritualize organizational conflict.

We love to blame boogiemen. We excel in finding spiritual reasons for why people fail, sin, argue, miss deadlines, etc… Instead of looking for a spiritual reason, understand that organizational conflict happens. That should be your first move. Deal with the issue without overspiritualizing it or over personalizing it.

10. Fail to take things personally.

It is personal. Weep over your city. Be pained when you’re betrayed. Be pained when you betray. Get close to people. Be sad when they move away.  Be sad when they don’t move but do go to another church…even when you know that’s what they should do. Shepherds love their sheep. They fight for their sheep. They look for their sheep when they’re stranded. You don’t help anyone when you train yourself not to take things personally.  It is personal.

11. Believe that your best days are behind you.

Now is not the time to coast because you think you’ve reached the peak of your capacity.  Even if you are functioning at the peak of your capacity now, you must know that the Holy Spirit is working through you. You may be outnumbered, outmatched, overrun, and overtired. But, You are on God’s side.  GOD + YOU = A MAJORITY

Church Growth

How To: Capture, Follow-Up, and Connect With Every Church Visitor

Have you ever had guests visit your church, maybe even return for another visit, but when you look up six weeks or six months later they’re nowhere to be found?

It’s one of the most frustrating parts of pastoring—trying to retain guests. There are many great resources available to help you attract and keep more guests, but this tutorial will help you create a step by step assimilation process using Planning Center’s FREE software “People.”

Church Growth

4 Habits That Separate Great Pastors from Good Pastors

When you first felt called to ministry, your dreams of future opportunities were probably big, bold, and courageous. Your admired great pastors and bold leaders, you didn’t dream of maintaining the status quo—you hoped to innovate and break barriers. Over time, though, after you’ve seen enough members walk away, the fear of people leaving the church can kill your courage, and you become a manager instead of a leader

You might assume the churches with the most to lose play it the safest, but it’s’ usually the opposite— the churches with most to lose experiment the most. They understand that leaders who are afraid of subtraction never experience multiplication. If you’re willing to be a courageous leader, being led by the Holy Spirit in spite of what might go wrong or who may leave, you will take new ground, reach new people, and seize new opportunities.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Leaders who are afraid of subtraction never experience multiplication.” quote=”Leaders who are afraid of subtraction never experience multiplication.”]

Every courageous pastor I know exhibits these four characteristics:

1. Don’t apologize for vision

Every conference and leadership book you read talks about vision, but there’s a reason; it’s the most important characteristic of a leader. People want to follow a leader with a vision. Vision is the desired destination, and even though you will be excited about the destination, you need to know not everyone will agree with you. Often the greatest resistance to change will come from those who were on the cutting edge of innovation in a previous generation. They traded imagination for memories, and change threatens their current position or influence.

Make sure you have a vision and not a version of a vision. Over the years I tried to tell my church I had a vision when the truth was I had a version of a vision I was copying from another church. It’s okay to be inspired by other churches and ministries, but God has a unique vision for your church. Sure, it may resemble another church—there are only so many ways to conduct a church service—but is your vision authentic? Does it look, smell, and feel like your God-given DNA? If you’re not sure if your vision is unique, it’s not. If you’re unclear on what your vision is, your team and congregation are confused as well. When you begin conversations about making changes in your church people are going to want to know why, and you better have an answer stronger than, “because I think it would be cool.” Or “because I saw it at another church.” You don’t owe everyone an explanation for every decision, but the bigger the change, the larger the pressure to explain why. Your vision is your why.

2. Have the hard conversation

What separates the best leaders from everyone else is their willingness to have tough conversations. While other leaders dodge or avoid painful meetings, courageous leaders confront it, because they know issues left unresolved don’t go away; they only get worse. Your church is probably two difficult conversations away from breaking through a growth barrier.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Your church is probably two difficult conversations away from breaking a growth barrier” quote=”Your church is probably two difficult conversations away from breaking a growth barrier”]

After reading the last sentence, you immediately had a person come to your mind because you’ve known for a long time you need to have a difficult conversation with them, but you’ve avoided it out of fear they would be hurt, leave the church, or even influence other people to leave. Is someone still singing who shouldn’t be? Is someone still in leadership because their family has been at the church the longest? Is someone still on staff because they have relatives in the church? You will not grow around the elephant in the room. Change requires hard conversations. That’s what separates leaders from managers; leaders have hard conversations and managers avoid them. It won’t be fun, but it will be fruitful.

3. Pull the Trigger

Sometimes the hardest thing to do after your vision is clear is to pull the trigger. When I say “pull the trigger,” I mean start, press go, move! There always comes a moment of absolute terror before life’s most important and courageous decisions, “Am I making the right decision? Will this work? Will anyone follow me?” The longer you wait, the stronger the voices of doubt become.

Do you need to start an additional worship service? Do you need to hire a new staff member? Do you need to launch a building campaign? Rest assured, starting new ideas ruffles old feathers— I don’t mean old as in age, I mean old as in mindset— but every time you pull the trigger on something new, you’re learning lessons, gaining experience, and building your faith muscle. After all, it was God who said, “I am doing a new thing.”

4. Pull the Plug

Leaders love to share a vision and start new things, but starting something new usually means ending something old, and that’s not fun. You can think of something in your church right now that has lost its effectiveness and is draining resources, but to pull the plug would upset someone and you don’t want to risk it.

I’m embarrassed to share this story, but when I first started pastoring, we made the decision to end Sunday School and move to an in-home small-group model. Almost everyone was on board with the idea, except a few elderly members who loved their Sunday School class. In an attempt to be diplomatic and keep everyone happy I allowed them to continue meeting. Over the next few weeks and months, as we made more changes in the church, the teacher of the class grew unhappy. He didn’t like the young pastor making changes to his church and began sharing his frustrations with the class. When I confronted him about it, he got mad and left the church.

Here’s the embarrassing part, after a few weeks without a teacher the members of the class approached me and asked if the former teacher could come back and continue teaching the class. There was a catch though; he wasn’t going to attend the church, he was just going to teach the Sunday School class, and then leave to attend another church down the street. To recap, a disgruntled member, who did not like me or the vision of the church wanted to teach a class and then leave to attend church elsewhere. No leader in their right mind would agree to that, except me. I said, “yes” because I was afraid of telling the senior adult class no. As you might expect, it was a disaster. Eventually, we had to shut down the class anyway, but everything could have been handled so much more effectively if I had made the courageous decision to lead with vision and pull the plug at the beginning when I knew it was the right decision.

What is the decision you need to make, but you’ve been putting it off because you’re afraid of who it will upset? What program, ministry, or event needs to end, but you’re afraid it will cause people to leave the church? Pull the plug! Yes, people will be upset, some may even leave, but the people who will stay and the people God wants you to reach need courageous leadership.

Church Growth

3 Ways I Shrunk My Church From 400 to 200

Every leader is hungry for knowledge and insight from those who have breathed the rare air of church growth. I bet you’ve read hundreds of blogs and books about the topic.  I love those blogs, but this isn’t one of those. Instead, let me tell you how I shrunk my church. Hopefully, I can save you from some of my mistakes. Let me give you a little backstory first.

Looking back now it was inevitable; I started pastoring at the age of 24, which was probably not the wisest decision at the time, but you couldn’t have convinced me otherwise back then. I was a cocky, stubborn, opinionated young leader convinced I knew what needed to be done to grow a church.