Be Mean

be mean

 

….about the vision, that is. 

Wondering what I’m talking about today?

Vision. Tenacity. Determination. The ability to finish the race God called us to.

Whether you are a pastor, a leader, a parent, or an employer, you started with a vision.  We all did.

  • Pastors want to shepherd and disciple a group of people.
  • Parents want to raise God-loving, integrity-filled children.
  • CEO’s want to run purpose-filled, profitable organizations.
  • People want to accomplish their goals.

All of us have a vision of what we want to do and who we’d like to become, yet few of us stick to it over time. Even after short-term success, visions tend to blur, drift, and fade.

  • Pastors get sidetracked with people’s agendas and well-meaning ideas.
  • Parents get lost in demanding daily routines.
  • Organizations drown in red tape.
  • Our goals are forgotten as we address day-to-day minutia. 

Can you relate? I sure can. After 21 years in ministry, I can testify to countless times my vision for a particular ministry or group was threatened to drift away from what God originally tasked me to accomplish. Even as a parent I can feel the pull to get off course and pay more attention to a busy schedule than to the spiritual growth of my kids.

The bottom line is vision fades. We forget why we do what we do. We mean to do something specific, but we drift off course. 

That’s why I think we should be mean! We should mean to do what we do! All of us – in every role we have – should be mean about the vision God has given us. We should be intentional in our leadership! That kind of intentionality requires consistency, commitment, and yes, courage. Trust me, you need a lot of that last one. Being mean about your vision…sticking to it….saying no to some good things in order to say yes to the best things….not pleasing everyone all the time….making some tough calls….well, that’s rubber meets the road kind of stuff. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

But, here’s the payoff: life, passion, growth, success! When we resolutely stick to the vision God has given for our lives, our ministries, and our families, we flourish! And so do the people around us. Accomplishing what we set out to do brings satisfaction, fulfillment, and contentedness. That’s much better than drowning in daily minutia, don’t you agree?

My husband’s next book, Be Mean About The Vision, will help you protect and preserve what really matters. It launches April 19th, but you can pre-order it now. If you’ve ever drifted off-course or if you’d like to prevent it from happening, get this book today.

Don’t wander in random directions. Be mean about your vision. About the vision God has for your ministry and family. About the vision God has for your life. Be intentional. Be resolute.

Be mean about the vision!

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Free Webinar: How To Build A Healthy Staff Culture

I’ve been married to a pastor for 22 years which means I’ve been a sounding board for all kinds of staffing issues from hiring/firing to getting the most from each team member. Oh sure, we plot and plan together for ministry strategy, events, and the spiritual growth of a church, but accomplishing our plans would be nearly impossible without the help of a talented, healthy ministry team.

If you are a pastor’s wife, you’re a sounding board, too. You’ve probably counseled your hubby through staffing conflicts, frustrations, and challenges. Sometimes you’ve sided with him. Sometimes you’ve played devil’s advocate to help him see another point of view. Those conversations are valuable to our husbands…and to our churches.

Let me share with you a few more valuable conversations that every pastor ought to hear.

My husband, leader of Courage To Lead, a coaching resource for pastors, asked some GREAT leaders this question:

How do you build a Healthy Staff Culture? 

Shawn had insightful conversations with these men, and the info they shared was incredible.

Sam Chand has been coaching pastors for years, and he’s full of wisdom. Sam has mentored Craig Groeschel, Chris Hodges, Brian Houston, and many others. He is the author of Breaking Your Church’s Culture Code.

Larry Osborne pastors North Coast Church in California, speaks at conferences, and coaches senior leaders across the country. He is the author of Sticky Church and Sticky Teams.

William Vanderbloemem runs the premier church staffing company that was just named one of the best places to work in America.

Chris Brown works with Dave Ramsey Solutions and is the host of the True Stewardship Leader Podcast.

Layne Schranz is part of the Lead Team at Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Al. He is responsible for leading and guiding their 14 campus pastors, and he knows how to build and maintain a healthy staff culture.

These men have insanely practical things to share. If you or your husband are involved in ministry leadership, you absolutely don’t want to miss this. 

Here are the quick details:

Webinar:  Building a Healthy Staff Culture

Date: Wed, Feb. 17

Time: 12 pm CST (1pm EST10am PST).

Time Conflict? Don’t worry! We’re sending out the on-demand replay link to everyone who signs up for this free training.

Click here to reserve your spot! 

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The Final Countdown

its-the-final-countdownMay 1, 1999 was a monumental day in my life. It was the day my husband and I moved to Cumming, Ga to start Mountain Lake Church. We had no idea what awaited us, but we rolled our sleeves up and got busy.

We knocked on doors to invite people to a tiny church in a primary school that smelled like pizza and corn.

We joined civic groups and mom’s clubs to meet others.

We wrote curriculum for our children’s ministry.

We developed security procedures for childcare.

We created a guest services team.

We decorated environments.

We wrote sermons.

We shared our vision with everyone we met.

We posted signs all over our community, mailed flyers, and rented a billboard.

We crafted budgets, devised a financial plan, hired team members.

And then….

We watched God work….time after time after time.

We baptized people. Over 2000 of them.

We witnessed people meet Jesus.

Marriages were rescued. Relationships were healed. Sin was overcome. Purpose was discovered.

We were blessed the most incredible team of talented, God-honoring pastors and staff that I’ve ever known.

We were blessed by hundreds of Christians who linked arms with us to accomplish the mission….to help people Belong in healthy relationships with God and others, to Become more like Jesus each day, and to Bless our world.

We were blessed with random notes of encouragement, offers to stay in vacation homes, prayers of spiritual warriors, unwavering support and loyalty, and the trust of thousands of people.

And, we were blessed with the opportunity to expand our ministry to thousands of pastors and ministry teams as we began mentoring others along the way.

I’d be lying if I said it was all unicorns and rainbows. It wasn’t. There were nights both my husband and I cried ourselves to sleep as we suffered a loss, experienced a defeat, felt the sting of betrayal, or bore the burden of the decisions before us. There were days I thought I had no more energy to put the next foot forward. There were moments I wondered how a need would be met. Yet, God allowed us to experience every thrill and each defeat, and we were drawn closer to Him as a result. I know God deeper and more intimately because of our time at Mountain Lake.

Now, the final countdown begins. We have 2 weeks left to pastor MLC before we launch Courage To Lead in an effort to mentor other pastors and ministry leaders. This weekend, MLC is blessing us with a housewarming reception to help us set up a new house. I absolutely cannot wait to hug necks, reminisce with friends, and celebrate all God has done over the last 16 years. Then, the next weekend we introduce the next lead pastor and his family to everyone as we pass the baton of leadership from the Lovejoy’s to…..well, you’ll have to be there to find out! Trust me, you’ll love them.

The final countdown is here. Two weeks to go before my next adventure begins. I’m relishing every bittersweet second. If you have a MLC story, a God-moment, or a memory that stands out, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to email me, leave a comment, or find me at the reception this weekend. I’ll be the one with tears in my eyes and a smile on my lips. Sending BIG love to you, Mountain Lake!

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The Best Teams Do THIS!

She didn’t like me, and she told me so. Very bluntly. I was naively blind to her frustrations, and she was kettle pot of irritations waiting to explode.

And she did. She pulled me aside to vent her anger leaving me stunned and speechless. As I reeled from her biting words, my mind struggled to understand how she and I got so far off-track.

That was 2 decades ago. We worked together in the mortgage industry, and it was my first experience with staff teamwork, or lack thereof. That season of my life taught me many lessons, not the least of which was love (especially on a team) is work.

These days my experiences with teamwork are vastly different. Not because our team is composed of Godly Christians who always do the right thing, but rather because our team lives by a code – a code which guides us to interact wisely and avoid those “off-track” moments.

The Code is our set of Ministry Team values at Mountain Lake Church. It sets the tone and trajectory for how we get things done. Each of our 7 core values is important, but I daresay one is critical.

Honesty.

Working alongside people with different agendas, personalities, and strengths presents its challenges, but those challenges are exponentially multiplied when we aren’t honest about how we feel. When our staff relationships become strained, our ministry quality takes a dive. Have you ever found yourself in these situations:

  • When that staff member makes a hurtful comment, we give the cold shoulder and avoid him/her.
  • When a team member overlooks us, we feel underappreciated and grow bitter.
  • When the actions of someone else costs us, we choose not to help him/her in the future.

Conflict happens. On every team. In every church. On every staff. Unresolved conflict leads to an unhealthy team. The key to success, however, lies in our response to conflict.

At Mountain Lake, we’ve chosen honesty as our response. Leaning on Ephesians 4:15, we have agreed as a team to speak the truth, in loving ways, to each other. These conversations are:

  • always done in private.
  • never “vented” about to other people.
  • handled immediately.
  • initiated with phrases such as, “You probably don’t realize it, but when you said____, it bothered me.” Or, “I’m sure you didn’t intend any harm, but when you ______, I was a little frustrated.”
  • ended with grace.

We’ve learned that the best ministry teams are made up of people who love each other. We’ve also learned that love takes WORK. Some teams aren’t willing to work that hard. But the best ones are.

If you or someone on your team is struggling in this area, let me encourage you to be honest, talk through your issues, and offer grace to one another. It’s not easy, but it’s oh, so worth it. Join us at Velocity 2015 for more great ideas like this….I have it on good authority that the Pastors’ Wives Track is going to be the bomb!

Ephesians 4:15 (NLT) Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

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Velocity 2015 Is Coming!

velocity 2015I love a good sale. A bargain. Knowing I’m not just getting my money’s worth, I’m getting MORE than my money’s worth. The thrill of the deal gets me every time.

That’s why I’m pumped to tell you about Velocity 2015. It’s a DEAL! This isn’t just a conference. It’s two days of inspiring speakers, helpful workshops, and tons of resources, not to mention the opportunity to connect with other ministry leaders, ask questions, reignite passion, and unify our teams. We need this. We WANT this!

The registration site is open, and an early bird rate is waiting for you – $69 until December 1, 2014! We are busy preparing for Velocity 2015 because at Churchplanters, we care about pastors, their families, and their teams. So we’re planning a conference that will equip us all to lead well and stay spiritually healthy.

PW TRACKOf course, my favorite part is the Pastors’ Wives Track! We’ll hear from:

Kathy Litton, National Consultant for Ministry to Pastors Wives for the North American Mission Board and Pastor’s Wife of First Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama.

Amy Bloye, co-author of the book, It’s Personal, a book designed to help ministry couples and church planters thrive during the journey of church planting, Lead Pastor’s Wife, West Ridge Church, Dallas, Georgia, and 20 year veteran of marriage and ministry.

Lindsey Gerdes, Lead Pastor’s Wife of Revolution Church, Canton, Georgia, church planter, worship leader, and women’s ministry leader.

Tricia Lovejoy, yep, I’ll get in on the fun too. I love connecting with and encouraging other women in ministry, and I’d love to meet YOU!

Click here to see the line up and begin making plans to join us February 23-24, 2015. I hope you’ll join me for two days of ideas, motivation, community, and inspiration.

Hope to see YOU there!

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An Odd Vacation Destination

MLC Tower 1There is something odd about the people of my church. Something different from the other churches I’ve served. Something refreshing, but rare.

They vacation at church.

Or, something like that.

We hosted our annual pastors’ conference earlier this month, and just like each year for the past 10 years, we asked our church members and attenders to consider assisting us during the event with set up and takedown, greeting, registration, and hospitality. We never have to recruit extra volunteers; apparently serving at Velocity is a hot ticket item. Again this year I talked with volunteers who actually used their vacation days to work from sun up to sun down serving strangers.

It boggles my mind, really. I mean, Velocity isn’t cool drinks and white sandy beaches. It’s not restful. It doesn’t pay much – just a Velocity t-shirt and a sore back. But the volunteers tell a different story. They say they are inspired as they listen to our main stage speakers. They say they gain insights in leadership and help for their own marriages in our breakout classes. They say they hear the “behind the scenes” stories of pastors and churches across our nation – stories of what God is doing in their churches and the challenges those pastors face. As our volunteers host and greet, they overhear all kinds of things, and they grow. They worship. They bless and are blessed.

Conference attenders notice. The number one compliment we receive as a leadership team just might be about our people. Time and again we hear how helpful, friendly, and genuinely interested our volunteers are. We’ve heard stories of them meeting financial needs of conference attenders, praying with them, and getting home addresses in order to mail encouraging notes long after the conference ends. In so many ways our volunteers “pastor” our guests, and our volunteers find great value in their service.

Sometimes value is worth more than a vacation. Just ask the camera man who worshipped between camera shots during our main sessions. Or the worship team who left exhausted but felt closer to God. Or the registration team who was energized after meeting so many new people. Or Mike, who when asked by a conference attender if he could quote the mission of Mountain Lake Church, confidently responded, “To belong in healthy relationships with God and others, to become more like Christ, and to bless our world.” Mike knows our mission….and his purpose….and that in itself is extremely valuable.

So while I mixed and mingled with the conference attenders, I hugged the necks of our volunteers, I slipped into back rooms to give high-fives, and I asked what God was teaching them. I love those people….God’s people….our partners. They chose to vacation with me last week….at church….and I’m thankful for them.

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A Look Back at Velocity 2014

velocity2014-500So a week has passed since my favorite conference of the year, and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect. Here are a few quotes that caught my attention:

Don’t bankrupt your marriage and ministry by making withdrawals without also making deposits. – Matt and Sarah Keller

If it’s true that leaders are learners, what are you learning? – Dave Ferguson

Too many of us in ministry want the fame of game day without the pain of training. – Shawn Lovejoy

The essence of leadership is embodying what we want others to become. – Derwin Gray

You aren’t remembered for your entrance. You’re remembered for your exit. – Rick Bezet

Have we exchanged studying the Gospel for sharing the Gospel? – Brandon Hatmaker

I want to be famous in my own home. – Mark Batterson

We don’t have an information problem in the church. We have an application problem. – Pete Hise

But maybe my favorite quote was not from a main stage speaker. It was a Tweet from a conference attender, Nick Carnes:

“Cameraman stops between shots to raise his hands in worship. That’s why I love #Velocity14 Conference. Not just a conference, it’s church!”

These are the ideas and challenges that gave me food for thought last week. Maybe you’ll stop to think about them, too. All the knowledge in the world means nothing without application, so make today a day of CHANGE!

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Velocity 2014 and BIG News!

velocity2014-500It’s no secret that my husband and I love pastors. That’s why we started churchplanters.com in 2004! Over the last 10 years we’ve trained and equipped thousands of men and women to start and lead healthy churches through coaching, resourcing, consulting, and, my favorite, our annual conference, Velocity.

February 17 and 18th – NEXT WEEK – Velocity will be in full swing! I can’t wait because the overall topic speaks to a subject that so many in ministry struggle to master: the pace of ministry.

Our culture puts emphasis on speed. We like things fast and now. Life inside the church is often no different as we fall into the trap of running faster and faster to provide more ministry, grow our churches, and build more influence. We believe the more we accelerate the more impact we will have. We have an impact alright…an impact as we hit the wall head-on.

However, we can also move too slowly. When our leadership lacks a clear vision, we become paralyzed by the complexity of decisions before us. The good news: We don’t hit the wall. The bad news: We never get to the wall.

Velocity is about a different kind of speed. It is about keeping PACE with the Holy Spirit. Jesus invites us into a new world: His Kingdom. There are times when we must speed up. There are times that we must slow down. This is the Velocity that we embrace.

Next week, speakers and session leaders will inspire and challenge all of us in attendance.

But wait! That could include YOU!! This year we will broadcast all of the main sessions via live-streaming!

Did you catch that??!

ALL MAIN SESSIONS WILL BE STREAMED LIVE!!! Check out the details at churchplanters.com. If you can’t be here in person, you can still benefit from our dynamic speakers and learn how to keep pace….the right pace….in ministry. Simply log onto Churchplanters.com. Don’t forget to follow along with everyone else using #Velocity2014 on Twitter!

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My Plan To Serve

So my last few posts have been all about making plans – plans to turn our good intentions into our best successes – in 4 major areas of life:

Personal Growth

Leading/Supporting my family

Using the gifts God gave me

Building Community

If you ever feel as if life is running faster than you can keep up, these posts are for you. Making plans (and then sticking to them) is a key to success! Setting an agenda for key areas of our lives enables us to stay laser focused on accomplishing what really matters to us. Of course, interruptions arise and the unexpected comes along, but with a plan we can navigate our responsibilities with ease.

That’s why I’m sharing my plans with you. Maybe you’ll be inspired with one good idea…or two!

Today, I’ll share my plan to serve those around me by using the gifts God gave me. As a Christian, I know God has given me gifts – unique abilities to do certain things well (Romans 12:6) – and God expects me to use those gifts to benefit the church (Ephesians 4:16). But, the church isn’t the only place I’m called to serve. 1 Peter 4:10-11 tells us that when we use our abilities to help others, we bring glory to God. In other words, we’re called to serve the church and the world.

Understanding my gifts helps direct where I spend my time. Some of my gifts include organization, leadership, writing, and teaching. So here is my plan:

1. Using my gifts in the church:

  • I lead the women’s ministry in our church, teaching on a monthly basis. I write my teaching messages on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday during the 3rd week of the month. I review/memorize my messages for 3 days prior to each event. No other appointments take priority over this plan. On those weeks, errands/appointments are minimized.
  • As needs arise, I make myself available for other opportunities to serve. That’s exactly why I build margin into my calendar – unscheduled time to give me freedom to say yes!
  • I invest into the Ministry Team by celebrating important days and big wins in their ministry areas. Using Google Calendar, I mark birthdays, anniversaries, and hire dates. Setting alerts/reminders helps me! I also write an online newsletter for the ladies on our Team during the 4th week of each month. Of course, it’s scheduled on my calendar!
  • Finally, I partner with my husband for the work of our ministry. Brainstorming message ideas, planning future events, management concerns, or simply being by his side…..we schedule all of theses things on our shared Google Calendar! One of our best ministry ideas was to create our 10AM Friday meetings. We review his weekend message, discuss other ministry issues, and download any family business.  That meeting is GOLD!

2. Using my gifts in the community:

  • I write short articles about faith for a local magazine, Up In Cumming. With a readership of 70,000+, I’m able to leverage my influence for God in a great way. I also write my own lovely blog and am a contributing writer for Flourish.tv, a website for ministry wives. I don’t want to squander my gift for writing, so I’ve found a few good ways to use it to honor God. My plan: I write blog posts on Saturdays and Sundays for the following week; I write magazine/Flourish articles on Tuesdays during the 3rd/4th week of the month.
  • I also teach/mentor/coach others in various ways, both in personal and group settings. I’ll share more about this in my next post.
  • Whenever I can, I accept leadership responsibilities for the activities in which my family is already engaged. Team Mom for cheer squads or helping out with a football team….I never underestimate the opportunity that being in leadership affords: making relationships with people who I can hopefully invite to church. I usually complete any required work during my kids’ practices.

So, there you have it – my plan to love and serve God and the world. My goal is not to change the world….just to change my world, the immediate community in which I live.

What’s your plan? How will you use your unique abilities to do certain things well? To help the church? To serve the world?

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Pastors’ Wives, Your Husband NEEDS This!

As the wife of a lead pastor, I am privy to many behind the scenes conversations regarding our church. I assist my husband as he develops his weekly messages, I help him brainstorm future activities, and I’m a constant sounding board for countless decisions that he alone must make. I’m a filter for financial, managerial, and stewardship issues for him. My answers carry much influence, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. To be sure, I’m not his only sounding board, but I am his closest and most consistent listening ear.

If you, too, are the pastors’ wife, I bet you can relate. We are our husbands’ partners….we want to help them be the best they can be. That’s why I want you to know about a FREE webinar hosted by churchplanters.com – “Getting the Right People in the Right Seats.” If you’ve ever spent a date night with your hubby discussing staffing issues rather than your love life, then you probably understand just how important having the right team can be to your husband…..sometimes it’s an all-consuming issue. Hiring the right people can facilitate enormous spiritual success for your church, as well as help hold up your husband’s arms as he bears the heavy load of leadership.

When the right people are in the right positions, synergy and growth is almost always the result. When the wrong people are in the wrong positions, synergy is stymied, and so is a church’s growth. The lead pastor must answer questions like:

How do I know if I have the right people?

How do I know if I have people in the right seats?

What if I realize I don’t have the right people in the right seats?

Where can I find new leaders?

How do I select new leaders?

How do I move leaders to the right seats?

How do I deselect leaders that no longer fit?

These are not easy questions to answer, but I know this webinar can help!

William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of the Vanderbloemen Search Group joins my husband, Shawn Lovejoy, for this FREE event on Thursday, 9.26.13 at 10:30 AM. Click HERE to hear William and Shawn highlight the details. 

This could be future altering and life changing for your husband’s leadership, for your ministry team, and for your church! Register now! Space is limited!

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