Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WE DIDN'T HIT 1,000, BUT....

Last Sunday was a super day at Chapin Baptist. Each week I can sense a fresh buzz and a sense of anticipation. Momentum is building and morale is high.

We prayed for a thousand last Sunday. And, honestly, we were a good piece away. The total for the three morning services and two student services was 800 on the button. Discouraged? No way! Those numbers represent a 30 percent jump from the previous week. That's remarkable! The new Ignite middle school worship got off to a great start. And a few new small groups began last Sunday. So overall, it was a fantastic Sunday.

Sometimes I'm asked how we count heads. Believe me, it is not scientific. But our ushers have been at it for a long time and they know how to count heads. When you see the tallies in the newsletter, the numbers for worship include the three morning worship services and Sunday evening student services. Most children attend worship and Bible study in the children's building. We don't include the two hours of Sunday morning children's ministry in the worship totals. They are included in the Sunday School totals.

In recent trends we've noticed that the 11:05 service is near capacity. Last Sunday was a case in point. There were 325 in that service with only a scattering of some seats available. Let's say that 340 is capacity. The rule of thumb is that when a worship service or Sunday School class reaches 80 percent capacity, you need to add a new service or class. Why 80 percent? Because the facility is comfortably full at that point. Some suggest you should start making concrete plans for adjustments at 70 percent. 80 percent of 340 is 272. We have been beyond the 272 number frequently during the 11:05 hour.

The staff has entered into some healthy dialogue regarding options. The 11:00 hour remains the preferred time for people to come to worship. We can't assume that guests who come and see a packed auditorium will try one of the other services at an earlier time the next week. No, they will probably try another church. So at some point soon we will have to propose a strategy that will allow more people to attend at 11:05. There are many options, some short-term fixes, others more long-range in nature.

These are the kind of challenges we love to face. But as we face them, it is critical that each of us approach them with the idea that we will do whatever it takes to reach as many people as possible, even if it means changing worship times, watching a video feed, building a bigger facility, or whatever.

Pray for your staff as we continue our dialogue. We actually need to move fairly quickly. We are planning a series in the fall that will encourage every member to invite others to church. We can't be successful with that thrust if we have nowhere to seat people at 11:05. God will give us the wisdom we need to take next steps. In the meantime, don't stop inviting people. We will squeeze and squeeze until we come up with a solution.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, August 23, 2007


For many weeks we have been praying for August 26. We're anticipating a huge Sunday as summer vacation is over and kids are back at school. At church, The Edge service moves to The Pointe, new small groups are forming, Chapin U begins, and a Ignite adds a middles school time of worship. We're praying that God will bless us with 1,000 people this Sunday.

Recently, student pastor James Clonts, challenged the senior staff to spend some time fasting during the week leading up to August 26. He challenged his student leaders to do the same. Throughout the Scriptures we find evidence how God poured out His blessings when His people spent time praying and fasting. On one occasion when the disciples had difficulty freeing a man from demons, Jesus informed them that some barriers require prayer and fasting before they can be crossed.

The purpose of fasting is to turn one's focus completely on God concerning a matter of significant importance. Fasting is not just eliminating or reducing food intake for a period of time. That's just the mechanics. Fasting, from a biblical perspective, doesn't happen until the person turns his focus completely on God.

Usually we think of fasting in terms of food. But actually the concept extends beyond food intake. What are the "things" that dominate our lives? Sometimes it is food. But it could be the internet, video games, television, etc. So, the purpose of fasting is to eliminate something that often preoccupies our attention and instead divert that attention to God.

In Monday's staff meeting we went around the table and shared what our fast was going to look like this week. I've also heard reports from some of our students. For some it was eliminating all sweets, caffeine, or after-supper snacks. Others are doing a bread, fruit, and water fast. Some are eliminating time on the computer or Braves baseball. One is significantly reducing his visits to (I wonder who that would be.)

Our staff pastors are serious about wanting to see God break through our attendance barriers. We're not satisfied and we don't believe God is satisfied. We're praying and we're fasting for 1,000 this Sunday. We've been meeting for extra times of prayer all week long. And instead of Braves baseball or Tiger Illustrated, we're using that time to pray.

Are you praying for breakthrough? Are you praying for 1,000 this Sunday? Are you inviting friends, neighbors, and work associates to join you this Sunday?

God is the one who causes His church to grow. But He doesn't grow His church apart from using His men and women to accomplish the task. So join me in praying (and fasting) for 1,000 this Sunday.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Here are some learnings from my recent readings through the Gospel of John.

  • In Genesis God speaks the world into existence. In John God speaks salvation into existence. God's Word takes on human form.
  • It still amazes me to ponder that the manger baby was God.
  • I love the Message Bible rendering of 1:14--"The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood."
  • If Jesus forgives the sins of the world, why don't we proclaim it more?
  • Jesus knows me inside out, warts and all. I can't fool him.
  • Without life transformation ("born again") we will never see the kingdom of God.
  • Even in Jesus' day, believers were "church hopping"--from John to Jesus.
  • One sinful woman gave her life to Jesus. She was willing to tell her story. And a whole community was reached.
  • Jesus did only what the Father asked. Shouldn't the same be true for me?
  • Jesus had to get alone sometimes.
  • I want my life to be completely aligned with God.
  • Jesus never allowed the pressures of the crowds, family, or followers deter Him from His mission.
  • Jesus didn't mind standing up to His critics.
  • Religious leaders were always getting sidetracked with non-essential issues and minimized the main thing--transformed lives.
  • Jesus spent a lot of time with just a handful of followers--even when the crowds were demanding more time with Him.
  • Jesus' washing the disciples' feet forever begs the question--How can I serve?
  • God expects fruit-bearing. If you're not bearing fruit, chances are you are not connected to the Vine.
  • What a joy it is to serve the One who has already conquered the world.
  • In His prayer in chapter 17, Jesus clarified the mission of the church and how important it is for the church to be unified so that the mission can be accomplished.
  • If I had been Peter, would I have denied that I ever knew Jesus?
  • It is amazing how many prophecies were fulfilled on the day Jesus died.
  • The resurrection separates Christianity from all other religions. You cannot accept the resurrection as true and at the same time not believe that He is the only way to God.
  • John talks about many other signs Jesus performed--wouldn't you like to know, say, at least a dozen more?
  • What John wrote in his gospel is reliable and accurate.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Saturday, August 11, 2007


The final session on Saturday morning was highlighted by an interview with Jimmy Carter, worship leadership by Kirk Franklin, and a final message by Bill Hybels.


I've always had great respect for Jimmy Carter. Politically, he and I stand on opposite sides on many issues. But I can still learn from him. Bill Hybels frequently faces criticism for the guests he invites to the Leadership Summit. Inviting the former President was no exception. Personally, I like to hear from people with whom I don't agree. I like for people to mess with my mind. And anyone who has attained high levels of leadership success, certainly I can learn from him/her.

The interview with Jimmy Carter revealed some important leadership and life lessons that I need in my own life.

  • Carter has a tremendous passion for world peace. How often do I pray for peace?
  • Effective leaders can possess a gentle, humble spirit.
  • His courage in striving for racial reconciliation serves as a model for all.
  • Grace in the midst of defeat. Carter could have been bitter after his unsuccessful re-election bid. Instead, he and his wife moved on with their lives, living out their passions for resourcing the needs of the poor.


In his final challenge, Hybels talked about the power of inspiration. There were tons of takeaways for me in this message. He answered four questions.

1. How much does motivation matter in a person's work?

It matters a lot. Studies show a 40 percent differential when a person is motivated in his job.

2. Whose job is it to keep me motivated?

It is my responsibility. 1 Samuel 30:6--David encouraged himself in God. I must never blame anyone else for my sagging spirit. Nobody wants to follow a leader who mopes around.

10 ways to motivate myself:

  • I must stay crystal clear about my calling from God.
  • Make sure I leverage my spiritual gifts the way God gave them to me.
  • Make sure the players on my team are inspiring people.
  • Read biographies of people who beat the odds to accomplish great things.
  • Rub shoulders with e.i.p.'s (exceptionally inspiring people).
  • Participate in e.i.e.'s (exceptionally inspiring events).
  • Pay attention to physical disciplines.
  • Pay attention to my working environment (my office should be furnished with things that are conducive to an effective working environment).
  • Have inspiring recreation outside the work environment.
  • Practice daily spiritual disciplines that keep me spiritually fit.

3. What's the best way to inspire those around me?

The best way to motivate others is for them to see a motivated me. Inspiration is contagious.

  • Connect everyone I lead to a compelling cause, a grander vision.
  • Learn the inspiration language of everyone on my team.
  • Identify and reduce every demotivating dynamic I possibly can.
  • Celebrate every sign of progress toward our shared goals.

4. What would a church look like where every member was inspired?

Just take a look at Acts 2 and you will get a glimpse. Verse 43 says they all felt a sense of awe at what God was doing. It is these kinds of churches God is asking us to lead.

I look forward to the Summit every August. It's always a lift and is always filled with dynamic leadership takeaways. Next year's event is August 7-9. Will you pray about going next year?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


Before the primary speakers Bill Hybels in ten minutes time presented the results of an extensive study his church conducted on the spiritual growth of the Willow Creek family. His remarks resonated with every pastor present. In a nutshell, Willow discovered that they were doing a great job helping pre-Christians and new/young Christians progress in their spiritual journey. They were doing the least effective job with those considered to be the most spiritually mature members. They were hearing the common complaint, "We're not getting fed." Where they failed was not in providing deeper Bible study opportunties. Where they missed the boat was early on helping new, emerging Christians learn how to feed themselves. Remarkable insights that certainly apply to Chapin Baptist.


Porter is one of the world's foremost authorities on competitive strategy. It was interesting to see how our Chapin Baptists responded to his presentation. It was like we were in a doctor's level business school. A few of our folks were eating up his words. Others were bored stiff. My best takeway from this session--our need to establish goals for every ministry/project we do. What do we hope to accomplish? What are the most pressing needs within the church body? What are the most pressing needs in the community? What gifts/talents do we have in the body that will meet those needs?

Colin Powell

This was a super interview that Bill Hybels conducted with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. Let me give you some of what he calls his "Powell Principles".

  • Leaders should promote a clash of ideas. "Argue with me." Then the leader, after hearing arguments must say, "Here is what we will do."
  • Encourage a noisy system. Pull out of people as much knowledge as you can.
  • Only people get things done. Not charts, lectures, etc.
  • Maintain an open door policy. Give people freedom to pop in to provide input and feedback.
  • Reward your best performers. Get rid of your non-performers.
  • Be prepared to disappoint people and to make the.m angry.
  • Check your ego at the door.
  • Make sure you have fun in your command.
  • Avoid war if at all possible.
  • Prepare to be lonely. It is the leader who has to go home after having made the tough decisions.


John is pastor of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church near San Francisco. He wrote one of my all-time favorite books If You Want to Walk on Water. John hit a grand slam with his message. Using the book of Esther, he talked about A Leader's Greatest Fear. The theme that stirred up lots of further discussion with Chapin Baptists was the idea of "shadow missions." Anything that detracts or distracts from the primary mission is a shadow mission. Even if the shadow mission is only 10 degrees off the primary mission, we are off track and need to be recalibrated. We talked in our circles about how often pride and success can become shadow missions.

Jesus often had to deal with the temptations to get off track from His main mission. His shadow mission--how can I be Savior without going to the cross? How can I be Messiah without suffering?

The question from Esther that lingers on in our hearts--Who knows but that you have come to a time such as this?


Curtis is a well-known and respected screenwriter (Four Weddings and a Funeral; Notting Hill). He has done significant work in dealing with Third World debt and poverty in Africa. This interview was refreshing, enlightening, and soul-stirring. Here is a fellow who admittedly does not have faith issues settled, someone who lays no claim to being a committed follower of Christ. Yet he is making a gigantic impact addressing the needs of the poor in Africa. He has raised a billion dollars in providing assistance.

The students with us on this trip were very disturbed and moved as they saw some of the dire needs in the Third World. They want to make a difference. As Christians and as leaders in Chapin Baptist Church, are we doing all we can to resource poverty-stricken areas in our community and beyond? What more do we need to do to focus on Third-World poverty?

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Friday, August 10, 2007


Carly is one of the world's most admired business leaders. From 1999-2005 she served as president and CEO of Hewlet-Packard.

In this session Bill Hybels interviewed Carly. He stated that her book Tough Choices is one of his top ten recommended books for leadership. That's a pretty strong recommendation from someone who reads a million books a year (little exaggeration).

  • What she learned from studying logic--the power of the right question.
  • Fear was a big deal for her. But she learned that every time she stared down a fear, she became stronger.
  • Don't let others' fears become your problem.
  • Save your tears for things that matter in life.
  • How important is motivating a team? Motivation is everything.
  • Give people a more compelling vision that what they fear. But let them know the reality of how difficult the vision will be.
  • The boss who fired her up the most was the one who saw potential in her.
  • No matter what position a person holds, expect that person to develop leadership skills.
  • Biggest takeaway for me--Leadership requires passion and dispassion. The passion part is obvious. Dispassion means having enough objectivity to see what has to happen for the vision to become reality and who on the team will be able to make the journey with you. Dispassion allows you to make the difficult choices.
  • There is a gift in everything.

    I was a little disappointed in this talk. Flake has done a superb job as the senior pastor of the 23,000 member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Queens.
    He talked about five models of leadership: transitional, transactional, transparency, transcendent, and transformational.
    The transformational leader creates for the next generation.

    Marcus is a tremendous communicator. He is author of four best-selling books. His most recent, which I'm currently reading, is Go Put Your Strengths to Work.
  • Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.
  • The way we learn excellence is by studying excellence.
  • Positive psychology is a rapidly growing branch in the field of psychology.
  • Myth 1: As you grow, personality changes.
  • Truth 1: As you grow, you become of who you already are.
  • Myth 2: You grow most in your areas of greatest weakness.
  • Truth 2: You grow most in your areas of strength.
  • Myth 3: A great team member puts his strengths aside and does whatever it takes to help the team.
  • Truth 3: A great team member deliberately volunteers his strengths to the team most of the time.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."


I'm with around 20 of our church members in Charlotte attending the annual Leadership Summit hosted by Willow Creek Church. The conference is view by tens of thousands of people each year in numerous spots around the country and world. The Summit is one of the highlights of my year. I always enjoy hanging out with our members in settings that challenge us to move outside the box for the kingdom. Here are some highlights from Thursday's sessions.

Bill Hybels:

Bill "brought it home" in the opening message called "A Vision to Die For."

  • Nothing matters more than ownership of a vision. The most compelling vision is worthless unless it is owned. The vision must not just be big and bold; it must be owned.
  • From John 10--there is a huge difference between how hired hands care for the sheep versus how owners care for the sheep. Am I a hired hand or owner?
  • Am I willing to die for the vision God has given me for Chapin Baptist?
  • He talked about the three stages of vision: vision formation, vision refined, and vision declaration
  • Vision formation--not the Moses on Sinai kind of vision. Instead, team approach is needed. It is important to gather key leaders and ask the question: What does God want our church to look like five years from now?
  • Once the leader gets a glimpse of God's vision, he should take the first draft form to key groups in the church and say, "This is just a draft. What excites you? What scares you?" And then listen.
  • Through PROCESS the leader then tests his vision message to the key leaders of the church to make sure that it is a compelling message. Then he stands before the people and says, "This is what the senior leaders of our church think our church should look like in the next few years.
  • The singlemost important factor for people buying into vision is the level to which you own it. If they know you will sacrifice to see it fulfilled, then they will also.
  • People won't follow a hireling.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I recently finished a deliberate reading through the Book of Numbers. Numbers is not the easiest book to get into. But it is filled with great lessons. Listed below are some of my observations and gleanings.

  • Becoming a true community of believers is a long, messy, complex process.
  • Numbers are important to God. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
  • Now I see where the clergy-laity distinction got its roots. The Levites were totally singled out from the rest of the population.
  • God spoke to His leaders Moses and Aaron. I believe He still speaks to His leaders today (but not necessarily audibly).
  • God likes creativity, but He also wants things organized.
  • God also likes excellence in worship. Everyone had a role/ministry to play.
  • Check out chapter 5 to learn an interesting way to determine if a woman was guilty of adulery.
  • God takes vows seriously.
  • I wonder how many different numbers are listed in the Book of Numbers.
  • I never noticed before, but God welcomed "outsiders" (those outside the faith) to participate in the Passover.
  • God and grumbling and whining do not get along.
  • Moses was brutally honest with God in his prayers--"Just kill me."
  • Even people back then talked behind the leader's back.
  • Numbers 13-14 are two of the most significant chapters in the Old Testament. They explain why Israel had to wander in wilderness for 40 years. What is interesting is that the spies' assignment was not to go into the land and assess the likelihood of success. They were to go and scout out the land God had already given them.
  • The majority is not always right. In fact, show me in the Bible where "majority rules" is the way to run a church.
  • Caleb had a "we can do it" faith.
  • There is some good that came out of the people's grumbling, resisting, bailing, and seeking a new leader. It forced the leaders to pray.
  • One of the true tests of leadership is how to keep leading when people whine and don't want to follow.
  • Moses and the rock--It's not good for a leader to act in anger.
  • God sure is innovative--speaking through a donkey!
  • Balaam the prophet was careful to speak ONLY what God said. He could not be swayed otherwise.
  • Moses handed the torch of leadership with great grace. There was no bitterness or jealousy. His vision was still strong and so was his compassion for his people.
  • God expects our best when it comes to sacrifice.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."