Thankful for Seasons of Growth


I have always disliked the statement that ‘all healthy things grow’.  I typically hear this statement in churches that are struggling to grow.  People who say this usually mean well, but it puts undo pressure on staff.  My belief is that when a leader says this it means we need to do something to grow or ….else.  I think I dislike it because of the condemnation and guilt behind the saying when I’ve heard it.  If your ministry/church isn’t growing then you are unhealthy and you’d better fix that now.

Maybe there is a better way to look at church, life, and ministries.

It is freezing here in Cincinnati and all of the plant life is dying for the season.  Those same plants will bloom in the spring and thrive during the summer.  Many will die during the fall and all will be gone by winter.

Those plants are going through seasons.  In some seasons they will be beautiful.  In other seasons they will struggle.  In some seasons they will need more help than others.

There is no perfect quote or illustration, but I think it is better said that healthy things have seasons.  People go through seasons of pain, depression, happiness, transition, etc.  Churches go through seasons of loss, growth, decrease, etc.  The season you are in doesn’t last forever.  Many times it leads to a better season.

Right now our ministry and church is seeing a tremendous season of growth so it is easy to write this.  I am very thankful to be a part of such a wonderful church and growing ministry.  I’ve been in just about every season you can imagine in ministry.  I’ve seen churches go through tremendous pain.  One time I told a church no on becoming their student pastor because I felt that they were not working toward healing.  A season of healing is vital if you want to have a season of growth.

This week of Thanksgiving I’m thankful for seasons in life.  I learn the most during the worst seasons.  I enjoy the seasons of growth.  The Lord uses all of them for His purposes in our lives.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.



Turning 5 years old


My older daughter turns 5 years old today

In 5 years she has:

  • lived in 3 states (Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio)
  • lived in 4 cities (Richmond, Snellville, Covington, and Cincinnati)
  • been to 2 MLB ballparks – Nationals and Braves
  • been to around 15 MLb games
  • Been to 1 NBA game – Wizards vs. Pistons in DC
  • flown in an airplane 7 times
  • been in 3 preschools
  • had 2 concussions (likes to climb too much)
  • seen 4 movies in a theater (Muppets, Finding Dory, Jungle Book, and Secret Life of Pets)
  • involved with 5 churches (Swift Creek Baptist, Mount Zion, Gwinnett Church, Zion Baptist, and Connect Christian Church)
  • played lasertag, bowling, all kind of arcade games, inflatables and trampoline parks
  • played hide and seek in the Braves Hall of Fame and Museum.
  • been all over Turner Field.
  • prayed some BIG prayers
  • been to every church event you can think of
  • been loved by many people

Happy Birthday to my big girl

How to Make America Great Again

Donald Trump’s political slogan of “Make America Great Again” will go down as one of the greatest political statements in history.  A person who many thought wouldn’t make the top 5 candidates in his party rode that slogan all the way to the nomination.  The statement is clear, memorable, and promises absolutely nothing.  I’m not sure that even he knows what it means.

What does it mean to make America Great Again?  Are going back to Mayberry days?  I hope not because I’m pretty sure Sheriff Taylor didn’t even have WiFi.  Does it mean we will go back to a time where people respected each other more?  I hope so, but I don’t think a politician can make those changes.

While I think we would debate what it means to make this country great again (or greater than it is) – I believe most of us want to see a higher sense of morality, respect, and caring for others.  We want our hurting and downtrodden citizens to be loved.  We want everyone to have an opportunity at success.

The fight for a great country doesn’t start with the White House or getting a more conservative Supreme Court – it starts at home.  It start with you.

The best gift you can give your spouse is an emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy you.

The best gift we can give our kids is a healthy, loving marriage.

The best gift we can give our churches are healthy families that are following the Lord.

The best gift we can give our communities are healthy churches seeking to show the love of Jesus.

The best gift we can give our states are healthy communities of people caring and looking out for each other.  Full of people who have heard and seen the gospel demonstrated from believers.

This will show the world real change.  Change that didn’t come about because of a law, but because of our obedience to God’s word.

It starts with YOU not with Donald Trump.

It start at HOME not in a courtroom.


My Moment with Pat


I loved trick or treating on Halloween.  You can probably guess that I’m a fan of candy.  There was one really nice house that we would trick or treat at every year.  They had the best candy and full size candy bars – not just the fun sized!  They were the nicest people and we enjoyed our time at their home every year.  I later come to understand that those nice people were Pat Summitt’s in-laws.

People outside of East Tennessee probably don’t know that Pat’s ex-husband owned a bank in Sevierville.  She wasn’t around Sevierville as much as RB and his parents, but she would make some appearances.  One time I met with Pat at her book signing at the bank.  I remember her to be intense (even at a book signing) but very gracious.

I asked Pat about speaking on the subject of leadership.  We talked a little about her faith and I encouraged her to get involved in conferences and events.  Who would be better to speak to students on leadership and discipline than Pat Summitt.  She signed my book and wrote down her phone number and told me that if I ever needed a speaker for an event give her a call.  I was very impressed with her and amazed that she would give me her number even though it never worked out.  She was a gracious person and a wonderful lady.

The Big Ask


A few years ago The CW was casting the part of Ra’s Al Guhl for the show Arrow.  The character of Ra’s was famously played by Liam Neeson in the movie, “Batman Begins.  Mostly fans loved Neeson as the character.  When asked if he would like to reprise his role as Al Guhl on the show Arrow, he said yes.  The problem:  they already cast the role.  Nobody thought they could possibly get the huge star to come to a television role!  What if they had asked earlier enough for him to say yes.  Huge ratings!  Great publicity.  Lots of momentum.  (Yes Batman fans I realize there are reports that he was asked and they couldn’t work things out.  Nobody knows if or when that happened)

I’ve set in countless staff meetings and event meetings working on church related activities.  Something that always bothers me is the unwillingness of leaders to think big, plan big, and ask for big things.  What if this year we did ________________________?!?  What if we asked ___________________________ to be a part of the Fall Festival?  What if we didn’t do ________________________ and instead put our resources into __________________________________?

Are we too busy to make big changes?  Sometimes.  Mainly I think we are too scared of failure and reaction of people if we actually did something different.

A little cost-benefit analysis on dreaming big and asking for big things:  Cost- time, energy, and maybe a little money.  Benefit – momentum, excitement, more energy, impact, salvations, baptisms, growth, etc.

What if for this summer and fall instead of just doing what you did in 2015, 2014, 2013, 1998, 1987, etc you began to think and pray about doing something different?  God might led you to do something that would impact hundreds or thousands of lives.  Begin to think, research, ask, and pray about what the church could do.  You will fail some, but those sweet victories would not have happened otherwise.

Make a call you think probably doesn’t have a chance.

Send an email that might not get anywhere.

Have a meeting that might not produce the event you want.

HOWEVER it just might work!  Think of what will happen then.

Is Social Media Worth It?

Jennifer and I have always loved the NFL Draft.  That is probably surprising to you since my wife doesn’t enjoy football.  She does enjoy drama though and the NFL draft can have lots of it.  The 2016 draft drama has been next level though!

Laremy Tunsil was considered the top rated prospect in the draft, however he wasn’t drafted until the 12th pick.  There were 2 other players taken before him that played the exact same position that he plays.  Why?  Primarily because his social media account was hacked just hours before the draft.  The hacker posted a video of Tunsil using drugs.  I think most people would consider it a disturbing video.  It didn’t stop there.  After he was drafted his Instagram was hacked and a screenshot of him texting about money with a coach at Ole Miss was posted.  The text basically confirms that Ole Miss was paying his mom (or grandma’s) $305 electric and water bill.

These post cost Tunsil his draft status and millions of dollars.  I watched several college coaches come out and say that players have to be more careful with social media.  A few even suggested that players shouldn’t have social media accounts.

Wait?  Did Instagram force Tunsil to take money from an Ole Miss coach?  Did Twitter make Laremy smoke marjuana?  Did social media have anything to do with him RECORDING A VIDEO of him doing drugs?  Seriously social media might be the LEAST of his problems unless he has made some major changes in his life since that video.

Social media just revealed the character issues that Tunsil has or at least had while at Ole Miss.

That is what it does with us too.  Social media doesn’t make you narcissistic.  Your narcissism is just showcased by Twitter and Instagram.  Social media didn’t make you an alcoholic.   It just shows people how much you drink.

Now I’m a 100% about training young people how to manage social media accounts.  I realize the cost of social media to people when they post something bad.  However the benefit of building relationships and platforms through social media is incredible.  The ministry, learning, and interaction through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat is life changing.  I know that my life is better because of these things.

Let’s teach people healthy social media skills.

First let’s teach them not to do illegal activities like smoking weed and taking money from coaches.  If they make better choices in life that affects far more than just social media usage.

Owning Your Online Reputation

Many of the decisions we make in life are influenced by scores and reviews.

We lived in Gwinnett County for 2 years.  In those 2 years I found that many of the restaurants featured on the news for their poor health scores were in MY community!!  One of my favorite places to take people got a score of 50 and was a featured story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Another Japanese restaurant we liked got a score of 35!  Once I saw that poor score I never went back.  Now both of them fixed whatever was wrong and got a much better score, but I just couldn’t trust them again.

Jennifer and I had decided to take our family to a restaurant a few weeks before Christmas.  They were having Santa and we wanted to do Santa pictures with the kids.  I told her that everything that I had read online was that this place had terrible service.  The food is good, but the service is really bad.  Normally I wouldn’t go to a place with those kind of negative reviews, but Santa was involved.  Those reviews were extremely accurate.  The service was just as slow for us as it had been for everyone else.

When I want to go see a movie in the theaters one of the first things I check is the movies Rotten Tomatoes score.  Typically if the score is really bad, I’m not going to like the movie.  So a low score means I’m probably going to pass on watching it in theaters.

Do scores and reviews effect your church’s outreach?

If someone you’ve invited Googles your church and reads your church’s scores and reviews would they be excited to attend church?

Let’s say your church has 3.7 stars (out of 5) and several okay reviews with a few scathing ones.  Would you go to that church?  We know that restaurants, business, and movies all suffer from poor online reviews.  Why would churches be any different?

How can we help our church’s online reputation?

Google Review

Get a Google account – Go to the Google homepage and sign-in.  If you don’t have an account, then register for one.

Google your church – You will see some information on the right side of the screen.  It should say the name of the church in large letters.  You will probably see a few pictures and a bit of a map.  One of the small boxes will say Write a Review.  Click on that.

Write a Review – Be as honest and positive as you can.  Point out what you enjoy about the church.  Give it a 5 star rating.  You don’t need to write more than 2-3 sentences.

Add a picture – If you have a great picture of the church, please add it online.  There is another small box that says ‘add a picture’.

Facebook Review

Go to your church’s Facebook page

Click on Review

Give it a Star Rating

Write the review– once you click on the stars a box will pop up for you to write your review.  Again, you don’t need to write a long review, but be as positive as you can.

Google and Facebook are the two primary platforms with star ratings and reviews that people will look at before coming to your church.  Writing a review doesn’t take the place of inviting people to church and telling them about Jesus.  It is just one more small thing we can do to encourage people to come to church and hear the gospel.