I’m glad there is no website to keep track of how many times I’ve flip-flopped on a decision.
My views on money, family, personality, health, meetings, clothes, and where to live have all changed over the past ten years. But since this blog is focused on church leadership, let me share with you how I’ve changed my thinking in regards to church.
1. I would not try to be shocking on purpose.
About a year into our existence, I borrowed an idea from a big church and did a series on sex. I thought this was cool. I thought it would generate buzz. I thought it would get more people to come to church.
And it did all of those things.
But it also alienated a significant part of our conservative community, and I spent the next two years trying to convince people that we weren’t a group of crazy people.
2. I would preach through books of the Bible.
I preached about 55 different message series – ranging from two weeks to about six weeks. One time, we spent 13 weeks in a series, but that was really long.
I love the energy, excitement and creativity that comes from launching a new series every month or so, but the tyranny of trying to do graphics, bumper videos and creative elements took a lot of time.
If I were to do it all again, I’d teach more through books of the Bible – maybe not exclusively, but a lot more – giving people a steady diet of Bible teaching. This would have been good for me, and it would have been good for the congregation.
3. I would look to the world, not just my community.
I bought into the belief that every dollar given to the church went to missions, and that reaching the home base was more important. But I failed to realize that the rest of the world was out there, and my world is small.
If I could go back and do it again, I would have picked a hard place and invested there from the beginning. We wouldn’t have gotten it all right, but I should have done a better job leading people to get out of their worlds and step into THE world.
4. I would not focus so much on growth.
This may not be true for you, but in honest evaluation, next level thinking was deadly for me. I was always looking at how to get to the next level, and I was always asking “what’s next?” Now, I think that a focus on health is more important.
Pastors of churches larger than me were reorganizing the staff, so I reorganized the staff. An examination of the metrics revealed that a particular leader wasn’t performing, so in order to go to the next level, I cut him off.
On a personal level, I was growing as a leader, and learning more and more about church leadership, but I was totally unhealthy as a person. My own life over the last few years is a metaphor for the change I would make.
5. I would not do it alone.
Perhaps the biggest change of thinking I’ve made when it comes to church is I no longer have a desire to be “the guy.” When I moved to Northwest Atlanta, not knowing anyone, I somewhat unintentionally created a culture where I could do whatever I wanted. I appointed my board of advisors (who were all great people, by the way). I made all the important decisions. Me, me, me.
I believe that a team approach is better – both structurally and operational. I didn’t need more competent employees. I needed friends.
Next week, I’m going to post a lot more on this.