Mantra #1 –  Jesus is Our Senior Pastor

I found this out on accident. Honestly. I planted a church on accident in a Starbucks in Europe. I had quit ministry and told Jesus I wanted nothing to do with his church anymore and labeled myself a deserter. Instead of shooting me, Jesus showed me the real battle and surrounded me with his power in spite of my weakness. He dropped some napalm around me and did all the work as I stood there watching, protesting, and trying to run. The night before our big launch, the guy who was supposed to take the church plant confessed that he was taking off.
I was left holding the bag. The core team. The lost people from Starbucks. All of it. It was a great joke Lord. You got me there!

I stood there feeling like a sucker, but I told Jesus that I didn’t want to be back in ministry. I told my core team over and over that I wasn’t their Pastor and if any of them wanted to lead the team, they could have it. They all took one massive step backwards, leaving me looking like the guy who had stepped forward for leadership. When that plan blew up in my face, I told them that I was leaving in a year, and didn’t care what happened to the team as long as we saw the lost saved. I told them that I didn’t care about the church plant. I didn’t. But I also told them that if Jesus did, he’d show up and lead it, because I didn’t want to. That didn’t backfire. It got them excited, and they looked for Him. I like ministry again, but I’ve never changed my tactic. I’ve never been so involved, yet so free. 

Nontheless, there will always be a team leader. No matter what there is a team leader, even if Jesus is the Senior Pastor. Don’t be afraid to lead the way by pointing to Jesus as often and as loudly as you can. It’s what leadership is all about after all.

Mantra #2 – What Did the Early Church Do? 

Have you ever been pissed off on a Sunday morning and then had to mount the pulpit steps to preach? I have. It sucks. In fact, after a number of years in ministry, and enough time on the mission field, I became aware that the little foxes were spoiling the grapes. All of the things that were putting everybody in a funk were 21st century problems. Before the invention of microphones, you had to be a barrel chested man to be a gospel preacher. The sound ministry may have opened up the ranks to skinny preachers, but at what price? Now we have “technical difficulties” because we’re running a show. 

Years ago in a church planting scenario I made a promise that I’d never let those tails wag the dog. If the sound system broke, which is highly probable in a planting situation, we learned to laugh. We’d tell people, “If you’re here to watch a show, you’re in the wrong church. We’re here to reach the lost.” We learned to laugh at ourselves and so did our people. In the end, church for us is like a wedding…sure, there’s stuff we gotta accomplish, but nothing should ever detract from the real reason we’re there; the couple. In our case, it’s a dance between Christ and His bride, and we just don’t let any of that stuff cut in anymore. It’s very freeing. When the sound system breaks, or the projector screws up, we laugh, make fun of the sound guy a bit, and then say, “What would the early church do? They didn’t have any of these problems. Today we get to be more like the church of the 1st century” 

Mantra #3 – We Care More About You Than Anything That You Can Do For Us 

I can’t emphasize how important this is. Many of our people are coming from churches where the leadership used them to build their personal empires. Rather than exercising their spiritual gifts, they were forced to do church chores to run the machine. When they flagged in building the pyramid of the Pastor’s glory, the whip of manipulation cracked harder, their commitment to Jesus was questioned, and the cry “more bricks, less straw!” rang louder. 

You must make it plain to them that they are more important to God than what they can do. In the same way that a woman wants to be valued for her heart instead of used for her body, so the bride of Jesus needs to know that Jesus died for their souls to reveal his own glory in them and to them, not for the goodies he’d get in return. Performance Christianity may not ring out from your pulpit, but it may still fester in the pews. Help them check their baggage by giving them breaks, not guilting them when they gotta miss, and encouraging them to take a well deserved rest free of ministerial guilt. In Band of Brothers, Lt. Winters takes one of his officers aside for gambling with the enlisted men. He tells him “Sargeant, Never put yourself in a position where you can take from these men.” 

Never. 

I hope these mantras will help to guide you on your journey to see Gods Kingdom expand. May they be a blessing and a guide to you.

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