GroupLife MidWest: The Character of Leadership with Steve Gladen

The Character of Leadership: FOUR questions everyone needs to answer to last in ministry
by Steve Gladen


Picture                         MOSES

  • Moses knew and embraced who he was and who he was not. (Exodus 3)
  • Moses was honest about his heritage and who God had created him to be, and he exchanged luxury and power for a life of rejection and humiliation’ and God honored him.
  • God made you for a purpose; God has a plan for my life – unique to anyone else on earth (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • Identify the truth of who God created you to be from the lies of what Satan and the world are selling.

TRUTH: Solving the identity crisis…

Principle                        JESUS

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

  • The branch exists for the sake of the vine; it has no other purpose.
  • Branches just hang around and bear fruit. When the branch is attached to the Vine, the Vine is responsible for the branch, and the Vine will see that the branch bears fruit.
  • Your responsibility as a branch is simply to abide/remain in Christ (the Vine).
  • Every day, you will choose whether or not to live out your identity (branch) and your priority (remain) for the sake of the Vine (Christ).

In light of who you are in Christ, answer the next question…

2. THE PRIORITY QUESTION: What is really most important?

Picture                        MOSES

He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11:26

  • The world values power, pleasure, and possessions. Moses valued God’s purpose, people, and peace.
  • Personal disgrace for the sake of Christ was reasonable to Moses.
  • Moses lived in light of eternity; he saw the bigger picture; he was looking ahead to his reward.

Principle                        JESUS

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

  • Jesus identifies your top priority as God’s Glory! And the way you glorify God is by bearing fruit.
  • The by-product is that you will show yourself to be Christ’s disciple.
  • The key to bearing fruit (and thus giving God glory) is knowing who you are (branch) and remaining in Christ (the Vine).

Leadership Principle: Pray for a Big Picture mentality. Base your values on what you know to be true for eternity. Once you decide to follow Christ and surrender your life to Him, you’re in this for the long haul. People may disappoint you; they may misunderstand you and criticize you. But regardless of hard circumstances and hard people, submit yourself to loving Christ, loving His people, and looking ahead to your promised reward.

Questions: What do you value most? What implications do your values have to your eternal goals?

Now with your identity confirmed and your priorities set, determine your choices and responsibilities.

3. THE RESPONSIBILITY QUESTION: What will I do with my life?

Picture                        MOSES

He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Hebrews 11:25

  • First Moses refuses the comfortable life because it was not God’s plan.
  • The choices you make will determine your character and the state of your heart….and that will determine how much God is able to use you.
  • Choose to identify more fully with Christ by accepting responsibility; every day you have the choice; your plans for you or God’s plans for you.
  • You are as close to God as you choose to be.

Principle                        JESUS

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4

  • Jesus clarifies that your first responsibility is to remain in Him.
  • What you do with your life will be determined by continually remembering who you are: a branch of the Vine.
  • Understanding who you are will shape your inner thoughts, intentions, values, desires, affections and motives (all issues typically associated with character).
  • Focus on remaining in Christ to shape your being to drive your doing, which results in producing either good or bad fruit. Galations 5:22 says that if you focus on the remaining, the Holy Spirit will take responsibility for bearing the fruit in you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Leadership Principle: Remember that this is God’s small group, not yours. He is entrusting it to you as part of His plan for your life. Continually ask Him, “God, what do You want to happen in this small group? What can I do to better serve You and the people You have entrusted to me?”

Questions:             What has been the focus of your life recently?
What has been the fruit?

Know who you are, why you are, what you’re responsible for, and finally…

THE PERSEVERANCE QUESTION: How far am I willing to go?

Picture                        MOSES

“By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

  • Faith is the prerequisite for spiritual leadership.
  • Faith does not stop with the initial believing; you must persevere through life by faith (Colossians 2:6).
  • Perseverance as a function of perspective: you will persevere to te end o=if you keep in mind Christ for who He is (the Vine), and keep perspective of who you are (a branch).
  • Live for an audience of One: the “invisible” One.

Principle                        JESUS

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16

  • God has chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit on His behalf.
  • Remain focused daily on Christ and who you are because of Him.
  • Don’t get side-tracked from your primary responsibility to stay connected to Christ (and bear fruit through the Holy Spirit). Only then will you lead others spiritually.
  • Prioritize your life according to God’s values (like Moses) and persevere to the end by remaining (abiding) in Him.

Leadership Principle: Are the embers of your small group committed followers of Christ? Do they see themselves as branches of the Vine? Are they continuing to live by the same faith with which they came to Christ? Are you living by that faith? Keep it simple. Continue to live and lead by that same childlike faith. Take a small group meeting and teach your group the “abiding” truths in this outline.

Questions:             What are the things that are in your way of ultimate faith and perseverance?
Other than the Holy Spirit, who is going to help you to abide in Christ?

Following is the twitter stream from this session from various tweeters…

There’s no movement without the first follower.

“The enemy of the best is the good”

Every movement needs a leader, but remember, it’s about the movement not the leader.

Often in ministry we don’t want to embrace who we are.

Embrace who God has made you… God wants you to be YOU!

God wants you to be original in your ministry. Big statement for us who are early in ministry

You never know who is in your small group and the destiny that resides within.

Identify the truth of who God created you to be from lies of what Satan & the world r selling

The branch exists for the sake of the vine; it has no other purpose. Jn 15:5

What we teach about tithing & God using our 90% we miss in our teaching about sabbath.

The vine will see that the branch bears fruit

We bear fruit for a season. There is a time for pruning.

Every day u will choose whether or not to live out your identity & your priority 4 the sake of the Vine (Christ)

God wants you to be an influencer. Satan wants you to be influenced.

Personal disgrace for the sake of Christ was reasonable to Moses.

Life isn’t always gonna look pretty. But there’s joy in the imperfections. –

In the game of life it isn’t going to be pretty for the follower of Christ but we can find joy in the imperfections of this world

The key to bearing fruit is knowing who you are (branch) and remaining in Christ (Vine)

Every day you will choose whether or not to live out your identity and your priority for the sake of Christ.

You want God to use you – glorify Him in the small things.

The third- the Responsibility Question: What will I do with my life?

Choices we make determine our character and the state of our hearts–that determines how much God is able to use you.

Are you going to choose your plans for you, or God’s plan for you?

You are as close to God as you choose.

God’s economy is not equity. It’s more about eternity.

How important are people? How far are you willing to go to reach them?

Faith does not stop with the initial believing.

Perseverance is a function of perspective

Sticky Church Conference


Does it matter how many people are coming through YOUR front door if YOUR back door is wide open?

There are plenty of ways to get people to come to church.  Keeping them there is another matter.  Many of our churches seem more like Teflon than Velcro.  So what will it take to make your church Sticky???

Find out at the One-Day Special Sticky Church Conference hosted by Suncrest Christian Church!!

Sticky Church is a “can’t miss” event with main speakers Larry Osborne, Dave Ferguson and Scott Chapman! The reasonable cost also includes 12 practical workshops! Check it out and register now – just click on the picture.

Social Media Workshop!!!!
Live interviews via webcast with DJ Chuang , Tony Steward and Cynthia Ware !

I am thrilled to lead a workshop along with Greg Lee that includes interviewing three great friends I’ve made through Social Media.

DJ Chuang is a Director at Leadership Network, launching digital initiatives, and connecting multi-site churches, and Asian American churches.

Tony Steward is the Online Community Pastor at using Social Media to connect with the internet campus community.

Cynthia Ware has served in pastoral  ministry for 20 years.  Her blog, The Digital Sanctuary, encourages Christian leaders to embrace and employ new media technologies to serve the Kingdom of God.

Hope to see you on March 31st!

Yes, Life Change Happens Online

My online group leader, Tony Steward, posted this powerful video on his blog last night. A wonderful example of how God is using him to minister to people online.  I wanted to share it with you in the hope that we can begin to promote the viability of using technology and online community as an avenue to love on people and share the Good News that has impacted our own lives.  Thanks, Tony, for your leadership in online ministry!

For those that are about Jesus, and following him, this is just an encouragement for you to move in love everywhere you can. See video here.

The Reason Your Church Must Twitter – A Review

It’s not news if you know me that I’m a fan of Twitter.  In fact, I’d say Twitter was the smartest thing I did in 2008!  So, when Twitter friend Anthony Coppedge gave me the chance to review his e-Book, “The Reason Your Church Must Twitter”, I grabbed it!

Let me say it here, this book is brilliant!  With vision like his, Coppedge is a huge asset to churches who will listen.twittercover_small

Twitter has advanced ministry connections for me on a personal level, but Coppedge goes further and proposes using Twitter as the next mass communication tool for your congregation. Twitter can be set up to your cell phone. Messages go right from your fingertips to their cell phone. Imagine every group in your church receiving the messages intended for them in an instant. No waiting until they open an email, “if” they open it.

But Twitter can be used as more than just a ‘megaphone’, Coppedge contends that Twitter can also be leveraged as a conversation where the congregation is privy to the nuances of the pastor’s day to day experiences. “This “humanizing” of a leader is often a missing element in the connection between the church leadership and its congregants. Especially in larger churches where it is unlikely that a personal connection can happen, Twitter can personalize the pastor, or other staff with whom they are connected.

The simplicity of Twitter makes it possible to connect with your volunteers more often, and more conveniently. As any leader knows, connection with volunteers is key! Who wouldn’t want a tool that makes it so easy? “My experiences have brought me to the conclusion that ministry leadership staff should spend a good 20%-30% of their time each week connecting with volunteers in order to build strong relationships.”

Speaking of simplicity, Coppedge has included an in-depth chapter on how-to get started on Twitter.

Simply brilliant!

Look for “The Reason Your Church Must Twitter” to be released tomorrow, Friday, January 16th! It’s a steal at $5.   And for $5 you can share it with your volunteers!

Catalyst One Day Session 4 – Andy Stanley

andy_stanley1Don’t Be That Couch

Andy Stanley

Whereas programming begins as an answer to a question, over time it becomes part of organizational CULTURE.

A.  As culture changes, many of the questions remain the same, but the answers DON”T.

B.  The tendency is to institutionalize our answers.

C.  If we institutionalize an answer, the day will come when it is no longer an ANSWER.
Couch metaphor – grandma’s stained couch – in love w/it because of the memories, stains are memories. Couch fulfilled a function when new, now needs to be removed. Stained now. Not beautiful.

When we fall in love w/programming, tendency is to keep it around too long. We become emotional about programming/ministry. Identify couches that need to go. But everybody’s in love w/the stupid couch.

See the couch differently, for what it is now. Can drag around expensive, ineffective couches.

II We must continue to be more committed to our mission than to our programming or our model.
Don’t fall in love with program/model.

A.  Over time, sustaining the model can become the MISSION.

B.  Over time, the model can work AGAINST the mission.

III Points of discussion

A.  What have we fallen in love with that’s really not as effective as it used to be?
What are we emotionally attached to? We created it, and trained for it.

B.  Where are we manufacturing energy?
Pretend/manufacture enthusiasm about an event. Cringe factor? Have a mtg about it asap. You should feel great about everything that’s happening. Don’t kid ourselves. That couch is good!?

“If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he or she do?  Why shouldn’t we walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?” – Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove
New person would see the ugly couch and it needs to be addressed. As leaders we are responsible to step up and acknowledge the ugly couches.
i.e. baby dedications – good leadership saw that it looked old, took a year to revamp.
Write a letter to the child that they receive on the day they receive Christ.

C.  What are our organizational ASSUMPTIONS?

Leaders must bring the underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with changes in the external environment.
Wrong assumptions lead to bad decisions.
What assumptions about how to connects Singles? Not band/speaker/production. Community service. works

The assumptions a team has held the longest or the most deeply are the likeliest to be its undoing.  Some beliefs have come to appear so obvious that they are off limits for debate.

  1. What do we assume about people and how to reach them?
    What assumptions drive our programming decisions?
    We assume Christians love to worship.
  2. What do we assume programatically?
  3. Which assumptions are false?
    Information and inspiration are enough for transformation.
    Moments create movements.
    If parents and kids attend kids programs together, they’ll be better at raising their kids spiritually.
  4. Which assumptions are true, but not fully leveraged?
    People don’t stick to a production, they stick to a relationship.
    How do we create sticking points for relationships?

To reach people nobody is reaching, we need to do things nobody is doing.


What we are doing is so important, we can’t keep these couches around anymore. Tools come and go. Challenge is to lead people in our church to know this.

Catalyst One Day Session 3 Craig Groeschel

cgroeschelGreat lunch with my team. Some lake effect snow – Woot!
Another GREAT session with Craig…

Creating Personal Momentum
Craig Groeschel
Gen 31:43-4

I will do TODAY what I can do,
to enable me to do TOMORROW
What I can’t do TODAY
Begin where you can today. Break down big vision.

Four Things to do Today

1.  Do something to defeat you DARK side.
My leadership dark side is ______________
Name your dark side, i.e. competitive, prideful, fear of lack, insecure, know it all

2.  Create ARTIFICIAL ministry deadlines
Artificial deadlines force you to:

  • Make faster DECISIONS
  • Intentionally DELEGATE
  • Disregard UNIMPORTANT activities

3.  Delegate what SOMEONE else can do.

  • Don’t delegate RESPONSIBILITIES. Delegate AUTHORITY.
    You can have high control with low growth or low control with high growth.
    There will be short-term chaos with high growth!
  • Delegating responsibilities creates FOLLOWERS.
  • Delegating authority creates LEADERS.

4. Do something only  YOU can do.
Make margins  – need time to reflect, think. Use your margin here…
Do not sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry.

1.  You’re the only one who can CARE  for yourself.

  • Care for yourself with  REFRESHING activities
  • Care for yourself by taking TIME OFF
  • Care for yourself by spending time with GOD
  • Care for yourself by EATING right and EXERCISING.

2.  You’re the only one who can LEAD your ministry.

3.  You’re the only one who can do something that PRIVATELY honors Christ to you.

4.  You’re the only one who can be a HUSBAND to your wife or DADDY to your kids.
Don’t brag about not taking time off that shows
pride (I’m the only one who can get it done), poor leader (haven’t raised up anyone else to do ministry)

Catalyst One Day Session 2 – Craig Groeschel

Another great session. Love Craig’s humor and that he’s so down to earth.

Session 2 Craig Groeschel

Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes
The longer a ministry is stalled, the longer it will take to get momentum back.

1.  Think Differently about your church CULTURE

  • Our people won’t _______   serve, give, come to early service, worship, etc
  • We haven’t LED them to _______  Leader – you need to model generosity, evangelism, etc

2.  Think differently about PROGRAMMING
Mindset – we have to do MORE to reach MORE, tons of activity with lower spiritual results
Rate of transformed lives was decreasing in direct proportion to increasing # of activities

  • We have to do  MORE to reach more
  • We can reach more by doing LESS

3.  Think differently about the MISSION
Are you about your mission, or are you about guarding people’s feelings. Love the mission enough to make the hard people decisions. Like a cancer – remove it.

  • We can’t hurt someone’s FEELINGS … a good person in the wrong place holds back the mission
  • We can’t allow someone to hold back the  MISSION of the church

4.  Think differently about people LEAVING the church.
To gain momentum, sometimes you need to allow someone to leave.

  • We can’t let anyone LEAVE.
  • We can GROW when people leave.

5.  Think differently about LIMITATIONS. Sometimes God guides by what He withholds.

  • We CAN”T because we don’t.
  • We ? because we don’t.

Three Assignments

1.  Find someone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they THINK. Most want to learn what they DO – not how they THINK.

2.  Identify one WRONG mindset and ask God to renew your mind with

3. Identify one PAINFUL decision you’ve been avoiding and commit to make the decision no matter what the short-term PAIN.


How to make change in the community?
Preach reward highlight. Became more kingdom-minded. Lead them to it.

How do you make change happen?
Symbolic leadership – can’t do everything, but can do a few things well.

Giving people freedom to leave?  What if people want you to leave?
Ask God, “Am I the right person to make this church go?”

What about changing the leadership culture?
Don’t give every one a voice., Maybe a staff led model. Fewer people making leadership decisions, not a big committee. Not more than 12.

Home campus was declining, what did you do?
Became more passionate – improve your heart for Jesus. Bring spiritual leadership.

Catalyst One Day Session 1 – Andy Stanley

Unexpected little gift today, sat at breakfast table with Craig Groeschel, bfast
Andy Stanley and Bobby Gwald. All incredibly nice!!

Session 1

Andy Stanley

I  Gaining and Sustaining Momentum

“If you don’t know what creates your momentum, you are one stupid step away from killing it.”
“What if there is a principle/formula for momentum?”
A Commonality to momentum?

A predictable system is part of how the Holy Spirit works in church/people.

Three components of Sustained Momentum

  1. New
  2. Improved
  3. Improving

A.  New

  1. New triggers momentum.
  2. Anything new, by definition, generates some kind of momentum.
  3. The momentum can be positive or negative.
  • Negative Event – Negative Momentum – 9/11
  • Negative Event – Positive Momentum – Rescue
  • Positive Event – Positive Momentum – New Sports Franchise

tip: Neg circumstances are the fertile soil for a burst of positive momentum

4.  Organizational momentum is often triggered by one of three things.

  • New Leadership
  • New Direction
  • New Product

5.  Implication: When evaluating an org or program that lacks momentum, ask, “Do we need a new leader, a new direction, or a new product?  Or do we need some combo of the 3?

6.  Momentum is never triggered by tweaking something OLD. It is triggered by introducing something NEW.  – New doesn’t guarantee sustained momentum

B.  Improved

  1. The new must be a NOTICEABLE improvement over the old.
  2. When evaluating a new option, ask, “Is this a significant improvement over what we had before?”
    Momentum will bring more people.
    Warning: Even a significant improvement has a shelf life.

C.  Improving

  1. Momentum is sustained through CONTINUOUS improvement.
  2. Continuous improvement requires SYSTEMATIC evaluation. (needs to be built into rhythm of org)
  3. Continuous improvement requires UNFILTERED evaluation.
  4. Continuous improvement requires that nothing and nobody be off limits.

II Applying “New and Improved” to the World of Ministry

A.  New

  1. New personnel
  2. New programming
  3. New Season
  4. New series
  5. New look
  6. New venues

B.  Improving

  1. Look for ways o upgrade your PRESENTATION
  2. Visit other ORGANIZATIONS
  3. Attend other CHURCHES

III  Momentum Stoppers

A.  Disengaged LEADER

B.  Overactive MANAGEMENT

C.  COMPLACENCY – tip: you rarely regain momentum by simply doing what you did to create it in the first place.

D.  COMPLEXITY – works against momentum (do 2 or 3 things very well)

E.  A breach of TRUST

Managers manage to sameness, predictability
Momentum creates chaos. Need good mix of leader/mgr.


who to pick for team to help you evaluate?
People who created whats being evaluated. Get feedback from a survey.

New seasons?
tailor rhythm/seasonality of program to those you’re trying to serve. Life cycle of singles is ~3months. Shorter than adults, students, kids  Introduce NEW every 3 months for singles.

Balance between mvmt of God, mvmt of man…God assembling people vs men assembling people?
God works thru principles, gives us gifts. Implement what NT teaches.

Parameters of Complexity? Who decides the level of complexity?
Lead pastor, elders