My Week: Tuesday

Growing to the Next Level

This where I have been all day with Kerina, John, Lisa, Glyn and Jean, and another 49 church leaders and their teams. Sharing ideas and having honest conversation about how best to grow the church.


It’s exciting to think where Xcel Church can be by 2020. We have our vision and it’s beginning to take shape. 

As we know God, find freedom and discover our own purpose, together we will then be a part of seeing it complete and making a difference. 

My head is slightly mashed as we have discussed the current reality and looked at opportunities along with listening to sessions about vision and systems too. 

I know, that like me, if you call Xcel Church your home that you are ready for the future and growing a large, influential Christ-centred church. 

Are you ready to make it happen?

Book Review: Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

Don’t know about you but as a relatively new Pastor I understand the importance of seeing new people coming to Xcel Darlington. The challenge is will they keep coming back? A wide open door is great but it will have little impact if the back door of Church is just as wide.

That was the dilemma facing Pastor Larry Osborne at North Coast Church in San Diego. That’s why small groups were introduced and more than that, sermon-based small groups. The aim: to slam the back door shut and make the church a sticky church. Small groups became the main tool to help people stick. (Check out the Sticky Church website for more info).

We do small groups at Xcel. I think we do them fairly well. This book encouraged me that we are on the right tracks. I’m not saying that we should adopt the philosophy exactly – in fact, the book does encourage you to work out the aims of your small groups and then stick with them. Don’t keep tweaking. Don’t keep changing.

The message keeps coming: get small groups working and church will grow. Not because the groups are evangelistic but because those who come on a Sunday are instantly plugged into a small group. They stick as a result of starting to do life with others, building what can become life-long relationships, sharing the Christian journey together, overcoming challenges, celebrating success, supporting each other. A great small group is a beautiful thing.

The book is a useful resource for Pastors who have never done small groups, maybe don’t have a model to look at or their existing set up is just not working. It answers questions, it’s easy to read and makes an excellent argument for working hard to make small groups successful. If nothing else the final chapter has 5 questions that I think anyone with or without small groups should answer.

If you have read it, tell me what you think. Get your copy here.

Check Out the Old Posts

Just being honest here – I think I am a true blogging geek. Been checking the stats at the half way point of October and I am really enjoying the fact that some of the old posts are being read. Probably started happening because of the ‘search’ widget I put in my sidebar.

Top 5 ‘Old Posts’ that have been checked out the most in the past 7 days:

5. Getting the Right Consistency
4. Bad Choices, Wrong Decisions and a Lack of Wisdom
3. A Change of Season
2. The Purpose Test: Questions
1. Why People Come & Stay at a Church

If I’m honest, I think they are full of great stuff. Leave me some comments – thanks.

Vision Comes Through Hard Work

Vision comes to pass only by hard work.

Thomas Edison commented ‘There is no substitute for hard work’ He should know, holding over 1000 U.S patents for various inventions throughout his life.

What about you – ever dreamt of doing something amazing, that once in a lifetime experience – like skydiving, going into space or climbing Mount Everest? Whatever it may have been or still is, only those who train hard, learn the proper skills, use the appropriate gear, practice, gain the right experience and plan for the ‘trip’ will ever realise the dream.

Edison is a great example of someone who just kept on trying, always tinkering with some new idea, not knowing exactly what it might become but working hard, understanding that the experience of having a go would probably, eventually bring some level of success.

In my role as a Learning Mentor in Schools I have spoken to hundreds of young people who when discussing their future and their dreams make an incredibly bold statement ‘I would do anything for this to happen – to be an architect, to get a sports scholarship, to be recognised for a great achievement’. I don’t know if they will be successful in their dreams but the reason they come to see me is because at that moment in time, they are not doing anything to make the dream a reality.

For most of those young people the main difference between the great intention they have of becoming the person the really want to be and the one they may become is plain old HARD WORK.

Lazy people do not fulfil dreams. The reality is that ‘people without a vision perish.’ Leaders must work doubly hard to try and make sure they are not one of them. Being a leader is often 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration – would you agree? What is your experience when it comes to seeing your dream fulfilled or what you have seen in others?

The Purpose Test (2)

Leadership & purpose are inseparable.

Leadership without purpose is meaningless – you must have a dream, a vision, a cause which people can become purposeful toward.

Purpose without leadership can become wayward and lack the focus needed to bring any lasting results.

Emmeline Pankhurst had a very clear sense of purpose: to bring about a lasting change.
William Wilberforce had the same sense of purpose: to bring about lasting change
Ghandi had a strong sense of purpose: to bring about lasting change

How it happened was different. They marked that sense of purpose with their personality. They stuck to the purpose through opposition and challenge. They were successful.

Purpose for them was real.
I think each one of those mentioned above would have died for the cause, understanding that true change can only come sometimes when those leading the way show a readiness to give their all for it. Sacrifice, the willingness to lay aside some of our own comforts is not for everyone – if it was that easy we would all be incredible leaders making lasting change.

Think about this:
Emmeline Pankhurst did die, just weeks prior to the Voting Rights for Men & Women Act was being passed.
William Wilberforce did die, 5 days before the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed, bringing to an end slavery within the British Empire.
Ghandi did die, just 5 months after the Partition of India was agreed.

There are many more great leaders who illustrate that the sense of purpose must be real – not all died for their beliefs but they were ready to. We may not consider our leadership so significant, yet the sense of purpose should be no less strong for us.

Purpose for them was truly ‘deeds not words’.
This was the motto of the Pankhurst movement. Dare I suggest that for any leader to pass the purpose test it needs to become our motto as well. Words are often cheap and we live where many would accuse leaders of grand rhetoric, which is followed by little substance or action (Politicians are a great example).

For Emmeline Pankhurst words were great but the only way change was going to be brought about was through actions – on her part and on the part of those who opposed her.

For these individuals, there was no room for a day off. Everyday was lived with their life’s purpose in mind.

As a leader you must develop that same sense of ‘no day off’.
You are a leader 24/7 – like it or not!
If you do not develop and embrace a sense of purpose, those on your team and following will not develop it either.
Remember: people catch your actions and attitude quicker than they catch what you are saying.

For any great leader purpose can be described as…


As a leader you will, like everybody have the desire within you to matter, to feel appreciated, and to want to achieve something of greatness and importance. To leave a legacy even.

To follow a route already cleared by another can be easier, requiring less thought from us and bring with it only modest challenge. To travel a path no-one has previously trodden demands a depth of character that unfortunately, the majority of leaders do not have.

To be a great leader you must understand that purpose demands an excellent mixture of vision and perseverance, held together by a good grasp of reality.

Napoleon Hill said ‘There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it’. Live like this and you will give yourself the potential of blazing a trail that many more will want to follow and bring about change where turning back is not an option.

The Purpose Test

‘Deeds not words.’ That was the motto of the Women’s Social and Political Union, founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst.

Today we would not seriously suggest that women should not have the vote. Most of us in the UK have lived under a female Prime Minister. Yet such an outcome only began the journey into reality when women were finally given full voting rights in 1928.

It is said that ‘the purpose of life is a life of purpose.’ Mrs Pankhurst definitely lived a life of purpose and it was due to her vision and determination that change from which there was no going back, was made achievable.

Real purpose only comes through discipline, strength and an uncompromising ability to make hard choices. It can be a lonely road, with no signposts along the way to indicate that you are even still heading in the right direction. You may only find out when you get there if it is the correct place to be.

Encouragement comes simply from within, that inner strength that what you are attempting to undertake is right. Such beliefs seemingly compel you to overcome obstacles which endeavour to stop you in your tracks.

Leaders must develop purpose.

Without that sense of purpose you will probably accomplish very little. Why? As without it, those following you or working with you may not believe strongly enough to see the vision through. Learn from Emmeline Pankhurst the true value of travelling the road less travelled by and to live with purpose.

Purpose for her was hard fought.
Many of the women who stood with her were battered in demonstrations, and when on hunger strike in prison, were force fed in brutal manner. She herself went to prison 12 times in 1912. We may not have to fight quite so dramatically but are you ready and willing to fight at all?

Fighting for something you belive in takes courage, boldness and leadership. A battle can be won very quickly but it does not mean that the war is won, it may just lead to more battles.

As a leader, you, like Mrs Pankhurst need to get battle ready, understanding what might be expected of you. Attacking is great but dangerous. She had to develop a plan, have some strategies, as well as maintaining a strong defence to the opposition she met. Every soldier signs up knowing that one day they may have to go to the front line – what about you?

Purpose for her was future orientated.
Emmeline saw a preferred future, that to her was only right and just. Incredibly, it was a future which she fought for even though she didn’t have a guarantee that it would come to pass. Think about it. Today, the arguments against such strongly held beliefs would be seen as ludicrous and people still fight for a belief in the right for democracy, but then it was real and mindsets were entrenched. Men ruled and women submitted.

As a leader you MUST see the future clearly and passionately. Only then will you have a greater possibility of achieving it. Purpose drives you towards the future you see when others would have given up. Vision and purpose are inextricably linked, empowered by a passion for bringing it to fulfilment.

Perhaps the challenge for us as leaders is paying attention to all 3 areas. Can you pass one of these tests without the other? Don’t know what you think but here are my thoughts…

Purpose without vision means the passion is wasted on something without an end result

Vision without purpose does not create passion which produces failure

Passion without any sense of purpose or vision is dangerous and unrestrained. This can only create problems.

I really want to know if you agree or not!

The Fullness Test

This is a new thought for me as I discover that everything we do as leaders is a test. I don’t know if I will ever discover whether you need to pass them all or not, perhaps that’s something you just find out by turning round and seeing if people are still following behind.

As a leader, in particular as a Christian leader – this thought about what you are FULL of has been niggling away at me recently. Why – because everybody is full of something. The challenge for us is to make sure that what we are full of is life changing, challenging, purposeful and Christ-like.

Fullness is an incredible thing but here are some random thoughts to get you thinking…

You cannot stay full – what’s inside you, will come out of you!
We are designed to never stay full. Imagine a world where everything your body takes in, stays in. You are designed to empty. A disgusting thought maybe but it is a basic truth.

Obviously, as leaders it is less to do with food and more to do with what you feed your spirit on, what influences you allow to effect your thinking and actions. The old adage: Rubbish In, Rubbish Out is relevant here. If you want to be a great leader, Christian or otherwise you must protect what you allow in…

what you read
what you watch
who you do life with
the habits you are developing

all of these things are what you will become FULL of and eventually, it will come out. The Bible says ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks’

To be great at anything demands focus, discipline and motivation. It involves watching the detail. An athlete cannot expect to perform at their peak if they allow the wrong influences to lead them to wrong decisions. The same is true for any kind of leader.

I have seen too many individuals neglect this area of leadership and therefore relinquish their leadership position. For a Christian leader: what should you be FULL of?

Book Review: The Dip by Seth Godin

A little book jammed with great insight on what becomes really obvious the more you read.

What makes something of value: scarcity.
What makes something scarce: the fact that not everybody does it.
Why don’t they do it: because they quit, in the wrong place, they didn’t push through the dip but gave up, maybe just before the breakthrough would have arrived.

This book has challenged me in my approach to a business model I have developed for mentoring young people. It has increased my determination to not just accept mediocre but to give it the push it needs, to become the best and arrive on the other side of the dip.

Highly recommended: purchase it here