Build Church: Keep It Simple

As humans we can have a tendency to over-complicate things. We fill our lives to the brim with so much stuff and then get frustrated when we don’t see the kind of growth, change or difference we are supposedly striving for. Or is it just me?

In my last post I talked about being out of whack. Clutter and disorganisation can do that to you. The key is to KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Now I realise this is not everyones strength but it is everyones need. The most disorganised of people will have others around them whose only purpose is to help them to be organised. This means they can keep their focus on their primary role. All of which hopefully leads to the success we desire. John Maxwell encourages us to organise or agonise. There is nothing more powerful in keeping things simple than to be better organised.

As it is for me personally in my desire to build a better life, to become a bigger person, so it is when it comes to building church. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Clear. Clutter-free. Clarified. Better organised. Get a clear view. Help people to be better placed to help build all that God wants to accomplish in their own lives and in the church they are a part of.

Clear out the clutter. Be willing to ask the BIG questions. Be willing to be honest and maybe remove some stuff from the diary. Don’t let what we say from the front be in competition with what people are actually having to juggle with throughout the week. Help create the space for organic-style connection and friendships to flourish.

Clear the communication lines. Make it as easy as possible for people to know what’s happening, and maybe more importantly, why it’s happening. Make it simple for everyone to know who we are, what we are about and how we are going to go about it.

Clear the line of sight. Make the vision obvious and easy to explain. We do this by clearing away the clutter which creates confusion and by clearing the communication lines too so people know what we are focused on right now.

Clear culture. Possibly most important of all. We may thing we are one thing when people’s own experience would cause them to define it differently. If culture trumps everything then keeping this simple, organised and well-defined is essential.

These are just my thoughts. As a team we are always working on these, doing our best to set others up for a win, so they are better placed, resourced and able to play their part in what God is doing in them and through them, in all their different spheres of influence. How do you keep things simple in your life?

Living in the Impossible

41kvsoXncfL._SL125_Jesus tells us that if we want to come after him we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross. The way to find yourself is to lose yourself. This is the IMPOSSIBLE call of the Christian faith.

Culture almost dictates to us that we should find out who we are, that ‘I’ am the most important person in my world, that everything I have, want and desire is okay because ‘I’ feel better, ‘I’ am made complete if I have them.

Culture teaches us to be self-aware, to be self-taught, to enjoy self-discovery, to learn self-help, to become self-absorbed even, to see God in all that you do and that YOU have all you need within you to live a successful life. Rather than challenge this thinking, maybe the Church has at times encouraged this.

Then you read the words of Jesus. ‘Lay down your life’. ‘Lose yourself’. ‘Die to yourself’. ‘Pick up your cross’. ‘Follow me.’ Is it any wonder that many choose not to. This is a tough call. Not just difficult – IMPOSSIBLE. In his book, Simply Christian, Tom Wright states that ‘the only way for us to live this life is to draw strength from beyond ourselves, the strength of God’s Spirit’.

This was the crescendo for me as I read Simply Christian. Slow at first but then increasing in momentum has the challenge to ‘reflect the image’ was laid out, thoughtfully but with enough of a push to make you feel uncomfortable about how you walk with God.

Loved the image of living in the overlap, the place where heaven and earth interlock. Every time we pray, take communion, worship, read the Bible, bringing all that God has done for us into the present. Walking in this reality makes us effective for God I’m sure, led by the Spirit not by culture or self.

The last page lays it out so convincingly:
‘We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting’.

To take a phrase that we have used recently at Xcel Church – living in the impossible, by the strength God provides, help us to repaint the landscape of Christianity in our worlds, in this region, in our town.

Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.’

It’s time to grow up. Time to grasp a hold of it. To leave behind the brokenness and incompleteness that this world offers and take up our proper role.

This is a recommended read, if you like more to think about, more depth to your knowledge but to still be challenged enough to change how you live the Christian life. Take your time in the reading and you won’t be disappointed. Get your copy here.

The Power of YOU

You have incredible power. To change the environment. To influence the lives of those around. To do nothing.
You have incredible power…and you get to choose.

Live the Christian life in the knowledge of how God sees YOU.
Live the Christian life purposefully in light of how others see YOU.
Live with the determination to be the REAL DEAL.

We underestimate the power working within us because we measure that power based on us and not on the fact that it’s God working through us!

The power of YOU can help create the right kind of culture…for the Church and for your own world.

A culture of HOPE.
Comes from living the life that God intended. Believing that Jesus truly is the hope of the world. Knowing that as we live a life of honesty and not hypocrisy people see that hope demonstrated on our lives,which in turn provides hope for them. If God can do it for you and me, He can do it for others too.

People need to hear the stories where hope was displayed. Your story. Told at the right time can illustrate hope.

A culture of HEALING.
Jesus did not come for the healthy but for the sick. Many people live in a state of hopelessness brought about by sin, brokenness and aloneness. Our lives can reveal a God that takes those suffering and cast down and reshaping them into something beautiful and full of God-given potential.

People need to know there is a place that will not only stand with them but also show them the process healing can sometimes take. You making yourself vulnerable and willing to share your story will illustrate the power of a God-dependant lifestyle.

A culture of CONNECTION.
Without connection can hope and healing truly happen? Connection brings depth. Brings strength. Brings support. People flourish with the right connections but survive and make-do on a diet of shallow relationships, many vian ‘social network connections’ instead.

People need to connect. They need to connect with you. To truly know you. The secret weapon to reaching those far from God is you and me. If we don’t do it nobody may do it!

Make sure the REAL YOU is standing up and being counted. What a difference that person can make. Then we have the environment for ordinary people to come, be themselves amongst others being themselves with God at the centre of all they do. That can create a culture of change. That can create a culture of growth. That can create a life-transforming culture which we get the privilege to have front-row seats for.

Why wouldn’t you want to be in for that?

Culture & Attitude

I think this a truth: allowing yourself to get immersed in the culture of a certain place takes a certain attitude. After all, every society, every region, every community, every team, every Church – they all have a certain culture. Even if it’s not designed, culture just happens by default.

As a Christian the Bible says a few things that I think can be related to culture. It says…

…that I live in the world but I am not of it.
…that greater is He that is me than he that is the world.
…that Jesus said that He had overcome the world.

It reminds me of the continuous need to make the right choices, of flesh v spirit. Whatever the culture I want to create as Pastor at Xcel Darlington, I must maintain a certain attitude towards it.

Remember whose I am.
Remember the bigger picture – it’s not mine, it’s Gods.
Remember that culture of itself is not wrong.
Remember to walk by faith and stay connected to God.

Anyway – just some thoughts…what do you think?

Culture Creation

I am not an expert in culture creation. However, I know that as a leader I must be intentional in creating the right culture – in my home & family, not just in Church. The learning curve is steep to climb at times.

Processing some stuff though.

I must act with intentionality. Letting things happen is unacceptable.

Creating the culture is key. Knowing what it must be. It’s something that anyone who is part of Xcel cannot avoid. Maybe it should hit them round the head like a piece of 2 by 4. Hope you sense what the culture is at Xcel Darlington.

Here are some of the things which I am thinking about at the moment which can effect the impact of my ability to create the right culture, positively or otherwise…


Loads more to talk about on this subject. Love your thoughts too. If you are passing through – what do you think impacts the creation of the right culture? How would you define the culture of your workplace, Church or team?

Anyone Ready For The Challenge?

Xcel Darlington is great. I know, I always say that but here’s the thing – it’s good and it has the potential to be so much better. Here’s what I am thinking…

…that to get us to the next level of growth will take more than me and Kerina being Pastors. It takes someone or many someone’s stepping up and taking ownership of Xcel Darlington – to do whatever it takes to create growth, connect with people, to build a thriving congregation.

…that I need to be more intentional in developing the team that consists of these people – talking about the culture of Xcel Darlington, of instilling some great leadership qualities in them, challenging them into sacrifice and really doing the ‘whatever’ that people often talk about.

…that without intentionality nothing changes and the danger is that in 6 months time we still have 80-100 people and never grow to 150-200.

If you are part of Xcel Darlington I’m thinking of doing some sort of intentional leadership training, just for 30-40 minutes, early on a Sunday morning, say 8.45am. What do you reckon? It would be challenging, stretching, it would be full-on leadership wisdom stuff – unpacking what Xcel Darlington could look like with 200 people and the type of people needed to make it happen.

It’s not a guarantee to greatness but it’s a start.

If you want to be a part of the next adventure for Xcel Darlington then let me know (even if you already have).

I Appreciate What You Do

5 words that can make a huge difference to someone on your team. Appreciation fulfills one of the greatest needs that everybody has – recognition for what we do.

It’s easier than we think, it doesn’t need to be something grand.

A simple shake of the hand and thank you will often suffice. It’s a point of contact initiated by you, the leader, to the team member that speaks volumes – it says I’ve seen what you are doing, and you did a great job.

It doesn’t need to be public but that certainly adds power to it. Giving thanks privately is good but to occasionally single people out in front of the rest of the group, although more tricky, can add value to the thanks being given.

Appreciation brings confidence to the recipient. If you only ever interact with your team to tell them whats wrong all the time you will create an envirnoment of negativity and resentment, particularly towards you. True, genuine appreciation goes against the culture and works to create momentum, continued support and a strong team mentality.

When giving thanks, make sure you don’t have your favourites. That certainly won’t help that individual, plus it won’t do you any favours either.

Passing the appreciation test is easy really. As a leader just make sure you are consistent, honest and a great encourager of everybody. Once is not enough, make it a lifestyle of looking for the best in people ALL the time and celebrating that with them and the rest of the team.

Tell me – do you think you pass? do you think you team leader passes?