The Faith of Leap

Crisis is no bad thing. In fact it’s an opportunity to rediscover the adventurous church. We will have to take risks, to chance failure, to be willing to walk away from the familiar paths that have brought us to this point.

It’s time to move, to cast off from safe shores, and take a journey again!

–Alan Hirsch, The Faith of Leap

It was a year ago today that I cast off from safe shores and set sail for the unknown. A day that I walked away from safety and security of what my family and I had known for a significant portion of our lives and stepped out in to an adventure that God was calling us to.  It’s been an amazing journey thus far; not like I expected and yet far better than anticipated. The people who have played a role in the past 12 months are the most important part of the story so if you will indulge me for a moment, there’s a few I’d like to thank.

  • Dennis Jeffrey – you’re belief in me means more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for supporting our vision and taking a chance on an unproven yet eager church planter.
  • Tom Greco – your weekly encouragement via text is a constant reminder that we’re not in this alone.
  • Chad Zunker – couldn’t have done it without you. Wouldn’t have wanted to.
  • Jeremy Self – who would have thunk it?  I know it had always been part of your vision to have a team. We’re just getting started.
  • Mac Richard – as my pastor for 12 years (and boss for 8 of those), I regularly apply lessons learned while at LHC. Grateful for my time there.
  • Chris Larsen – I’ve learned more about teaching and preaching from you than anyone else. There’s no better one out there.
  • Mark Groutas – it’s fun watching your faith of leap from a distance. So awesome to hear about what God’s doing through you in Denver.
  • Brandon Hatmaker – you challenge me bro. And I hate it (haha). Privilege to serve our city alongside you and ANC.
  • The Church at Lake Travis – no words, just tears of joy and excitement. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else or serving anyone else.

And last but certainly not least: Wendy, Caitlin and Parker. You guys are my love and my life. Your support (and at times tolerance) of me in the last year has been incredible. You guys are my rock. I love you with all my heart.

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leading up

i believe that the best leaders are those that not only lead people well, but also allow themselves to be lead by those they lead. most people refer to this as “leading up”. it may seem like a contradiction, but it’s not. if leaders are learners, what better way to learn than from those you lead.

so, about a month ago, our staff held our annual performance reviews. about 10 days in advance, i sent the following questions to my team in an effort to become a better learner/leader. 

  1. What do I do in my roll that leverages you personally and/or your area of ministry focus the most?
  2. What do I do in my roll that stifles or frustrates you personally and/or in your area of focus?
  3. What is it that I do that you wish I did more of… and what should I stop doing?
  4. If tomorrow you were directing the Family Life Ministry at LHC, what are the first changes you would begin to make? Methodology… Structure… Program… etc….

rather than list all the feedback verbatim, here’s what i took away from this time that i need to be working on:

  • more purposeful and intentional prayer time with team
  • continue to develop team environment in student ministry
  • lead team to do ministry out of the overflow/excess
  • gather team for fellowship more frequently
  • increased presence at weekly ministry events
  • more feedback on weekly ministry performance

what are you learning from those you lead?

outside the church

what do you do when they won’t come to you?

one of the things the Family Life team has been wrestling with over the last year is – how do we expose our ministries to more kids/students who don’t currently attend our weekly ministry events?  we’ve decided that no matter how great of an event we provide on a weekly basis (and we do provide great events), that not every child between the ages of 0-18 will participate in our ministries. we can have the hippest speakers, rockinest band, best facility, biggest budget, etc.. and the truth is not every kid/student will come to us.

we’re not satisfied with that. with a goal of reaching as many as possible for the Kingdom, we are beginning to focus on getting outside the walls of the church and into the community.

here’s just a few things we’ve been up to:

  • this afternoon our team will be kicking off red ribbon week at Lake Travis Middle School with a drug awareness presentation to over 800 middle school students. we have to walk the line between church/state, but the opportunity was too great to pass up.  Matt Williams our middle school director will be speaking and our LHC band will be playing.
  • our high school ministry, under the direction of Kirk Gentzel, felt the need to start an additional weekly Bible study/discussion. the decision was to have it outside the walls of the church and meet in a public place. you can catch them at Paciugo’s on Monday nights for some Jesus and java (or gellato if that’s’ your thing).
  • yours truly was selected to participate in Leadership Lake Travis. this is a regular monthly gathering of a select group of parents/leaders in the community who meet with the district superintendent and the elected school board to gain a better understanding of key issues facing the district and to offer support.

here’s the bottom line – it can’t be about getting as many people to come see you and your event. that’s only half the strategy. we have to go and meet people on their turf.

how about your team? what are you doing to get outside the church and into the community? seriously, we want to know so we can get better at this.

mark cuban for president

i know, i know. a few weeks ago i agreed to bow out of discussing politics on this blog, but i am thinking i might just “write in” mark cuban (yes, that mark cuban. owner of the dallas mavericks) for president. mark has been writing shrewdly in regards to the pending bailout package.

i have followed his blog for over a year now and my assessment is that he is a very smart individual. not lucky or fortunate as some have suggested.

check out some of these posts for some great info on the government’s proposed bailout plan:

For that matter, do yourself a favor and just subscribe to the RSS feed of his blog – here. You won’t regret it.

becoming vs. doing

in our first leadership lyceum the other day, the topic of “becoming vs. doing” briefly entered the discussion.  even though this is a leadership subset of the family life team whose responsibilities include an excellent execution of ministry, the purpose of our weekly gathering is to focus on character issues and who we are becoming in Christ, as opposed to what we are accomplishing in our respective ministry areas.  we don’t talk about ministry attendance, volunteer recruitment or retention, etc…  we talk about character integrity and who we are at the core.

i have a belief that just as form should follow function from a design perspective, that doing should follow becoming.

see, the world defines us by what we do, but God’s Word centers on who we are in Christ (a new identity) and tells us to express this new identity in what we do.  make no mistake that becoming and doing are clearly interrelated, but the Biblical order is critical.  what we do should flow out of who we are.  otherwise, our worth and identity are determined by our accomplishments. the trouble with that is that once we stop performing, we cease to be valuable to ourselves or the organization. if you answer the question, “Who are you?” by what you do, the world has a sobering way of responding with “What have you done for me lately?”

the parable of the vine and branches (John 15:1-10) is a great reminder that to accomplish things for the kingdom we must be consistently in relationship with, and abiding in Christ. as a matter of fact, these verses seem to imply that if focus on becoming (abiding), that there is no limit to our doing.

i believe with all my heart this team is on the verge of something spectacular. not because of what we will do (or God through us), but because He will honor who we are becoming.

stay tuned.

for more on leadership development, you should attend this conference:

no “i” in team

a little shout out. the family life team that God allows me to be a part of may be the most selfless team on the planet. 

  • as i type this, our early childhood director Laurie Byington, is standing outside in the heat serving up pizza to our middle school students as a volunteer
  • in addition, our middle school director Matt Williams volunteers faithfully every Sunday night at our weekly high school event.
  • our assistant early childhood director, Denise Grosch, is a volunteer leader in our DivorcecCare ministry.  
  • Kirk Gentzel (high school director) and his wife Kerra volunteer every week with our middle school ministry. 
  • my favorite example is Doug Connolly, our assistant elementary school director, staying every Sunday night and volunteering to help with our elementary school kids during our adult Core Classes.

each of them have responsibilities in their specific areas of ministry that they must tend to everyday and for which they collect a paycheck. and yet, they volunteer additional hours to other areas of ministry.

they understand, practice, and appreciate that there is no “i” in team.

go team.

leadership lyceum

lyceum – a hall where discussions are held. also the grove at Athens were Aristotle taught.

this Thursday my living room will become a place where our Family Life management team will meet for weekly leadership discussions. this is NOT a weekly staff meeting, but rather a place where we will talk about the issues that leaders wrestle with: character, vision casting, loving people, leading by example, serving others, being excellent, etc…

we are kicking off the lyceum with the Deadly Viper Character Assasins. further discussions will include Peter Block’s Community and Craig Groeschel’s It. I’m hopeful that the books will fuel our discussions and serve to break down the barriers so we can be real with one another.

what do you do to sharpen the iron?

family life summer

The Family Life Team had an amazing run the last few months. This has been the busiest and most rewarding summer for both our children’s ministry and our student ministry.  A few highlights:

  • We kicked summer off in the month of June with our largest VBS ever which saw 1197 kids in grades K-6.
  • The very next week we took over 70 students in 9-12th grade to Copper Mountain for our high school camp called Road Trip.
  • In July we held our first ever Rock Camp which saw over 90 students in grades K-12 participate.
  • Then last week, 94 of our 3-5th graders experienced Kids Camp and 145 of our 6-8th graders spent their time at Beach Week.

Some other numbers:

  • While there was a little lap over in some of our events, we had the opportunity to impact over 1500 unique kids/students this summer.
  • Over 500 unique adult volunteers served in some capacity.

So, if you stop by the office Tuesday afternoon, you won’t find us. We are sneaking away as a team to celebrate all the good that God has done.

And, it’s only the beginning.

leadership and character

Donald Miller spoke in Dallas at the Echo Conference this past week. In his session he was talking about the power of story and was quoted with the following – “A character is what they do, not what they feel or think or want to be.”

When it comes to leadership the same is true. Our leadership character is defined by our actions and not our ideals. 

I can read all the top books on leadership that I can get my hands on. I can attend all the best conferences. I can espouse all the theory and recite all the great quotes from the greatest leaders.  I can surround myself with the greatest mentors and leaders.

But, if I don’t live it out, it doesn’t matter.  As a leader, I am only as good as what I do, not what I desire to be.

And what I do is not defined by results either. It’s who I am. See, results can be deceiving.  Results are numbers. You can make numbers say anything you want.

Paul writing in Romans 12:3

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Character is who you are at the core. Not what you think about yourself. It is a reflection of Christ in you. And you can’t make it say anything other than what it is.