Category Archive: legacy

Are the Doors Open to the Next Generation?

Hey Friends,

Let me make a statement that should be accepted by everybody, but it is ignored by most. If the church is to continue in America we have to prepare the next generation. The statement is beyond debate! Without the next generation the Church is doomed when we die. So, are we going to open the doors for them? I pray we are.

Let me give you seven things we must do to pass the baton:

  1. Make room for them. (I Tim. 4:12, 14) Human nature is to hold on to power and positions. Without planning and prayer we will hold on too long and miss the passing of the baton.
  2. Pour into them. (I Tim 6:20, II Tim. 1:6, 13) The Apostle Paul poured into the next generation. We must do likewise. Open the doors for them to serve at every level of the Church.
  3. Make them feel loved and wanted. (2 Tim. 1:4) People go where they are celebrated not tolerated. Students and young adults know whether they are wanted and welcome. If you do not do this strategically and with great effort and planning, you are not doing it.
  4. Continue to build family ministry. By this I mean those 0-18 years of age. Pour money and effort into them.
  5. Stay out of the box in your ministry. Be creative and relevant.  Are you working on connecting to the next generation? Young adults have left the Church because it is boring, dry and irrelevant. Get out of the box. The ministry is about who is not there yet.
  6. Keep the music edgy. If you’re a senior saint and you love the music at your church, you are either very hip or the music will not connect with a 25 year old! Ask some young adults.
  7. Teach them how to think. (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Help them understand why you do what you do. The methods change but the message never does. We carry the Word and the Gospel, that is all.

Look around this Sunday at your church. Are there any people under 30? What about the nursery, any kids? What about student ministry? That is the future of your church. If you are filled with older saints the longer you do not pass the baton the closer your church is to death.

Just a thought.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

 

Humility is Essential in Raising Up Leaders!

Hey Friends,

I had a new thought, and yes, before you ask it was lonely!

 Humility is essential in raising up leaders.

I had never realized this until recently. It is easy to raise up followers. As a matter of fact, raising up followers can prop up pride and inflate insecurity. Raising up leaders that will be equal to or above you, now that cuts the heart out of pride. John said, “I must decrease and He must increase.” In the process of raising up leaders we must be willing to step back and let someone else have the spotlight. That is not easy unless you are walking in humility.

We all like hitting the winning shot, being the MVP, hearing the accolades, and receiving the pats on the back. All of these feel so good because they feed the flesh. To be able to risk by letting a younger leader take the shot even when he or she might miss it, security and humility are essential. Someone gave you a shot or you would not be where you are today.

Pride is when we feel that it all rests on our shoulders. “I have to preach all the messages, I have to be the one to lead the worship, I have to do all the teaching…” If we think no one can do it as well as we can, then we will “hog the ball.” We will subconsciously raise up followers but we will hold on for dear life to our power and position. You have to give up to go up.

Jesus descended into greatness. Read Phil. 2:1-12 and see how He humbled Himself. If we are going to raise up the next generation of leaders, we will have to step back out of the spotlight with humility and let others spread their wings and fly for Jesus.

This is the only hope the Church has to grow and reach another generation.

Praying for you.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

P.S. If Jesus was willing to lay down His glory to pay for our sins on a cross, what should we be willing to lay down to see His Church advance?

 

An Example – The Great Influencer

Hey Friends,

Let me ask you a question:

 DO YOU EXPECT MORE OUT OF YOURSELF OR OTHERS?

This is a big deal, especially if you’re a leader. I have watched many people who expected more out of others than they were willing to do themselves. “That dog won’t hunt!” It is an exercise in futility to think others will do more than you are going to do. People do what people see, so they watch you to see what you will do. As my prayer partner John Ball says, “Speed of the leader, pace of the pack.” So, what pace are you setting?

As a leader the example you set for your church, organization, or even small group is what people will do, or less.

 An example is the great influencer.

Remember, what you do speaks so loudly people can’t hear what you are saying. Your example is beyond important. Look at the life of the Lord. He set an example none of us could match, but boy did He give us something to shoot for! The example you live can give you more influence, or maybe less. There is always someone watching!

As a leader I hope you expect a great deal out of YOU! As people see you discipline and push yourself, it will motivate them to do the same. As you walk by faith and trust the Lord to move in great power, so will they. People are always looking for someone to emulate. Be that person. The Apostle Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Jesus.” Would you be so bold as to tell people to act like you and they would be more like Jesus? That is a big statement. Are you ready? Are you walking in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.

What kind of example are you leaving behind? What do your kids see? Your spouse? Your friends? Your coworkers? The list goes on. There is always someone watching. I was in a restaurant in Africa and I heard from across the room, “Chris Stephens, is that you?” I was stunned. You can run, but you can’t hide.

I challenge you to leave an example for people to shoot for.

Just a thought.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

Next Generation Leaders are Looking Good!

Hey Friends,

I am fired up about the next generation of leaders I get to watch and even help. There was a time a few years ago when I had a bad attitude about young adults. I had to repent of that and now I can see much more clearly. I am sure the same complaints we have about them are the ones our parents had about us 40 years ago. I believe God is raising up what could be the last generation of leaders, as Jesus could come soon.

If He doesn’t come soon, God has His hand on thousands of young leaders who have a passion for Jesus and His Kingdom. I remember Drew Wells telling me I needed to “roll the dice” and give some “newbies” a chance. Peyton Manning was given a chance. He still holds the record for most interceptions from a rookie Q.B. Now we wonder if there will ever be a replacement for him. Every generation wonders if new talent will emerge. I am sure it will.

Jesus is still building His Church and as such, He has to keep calling great young leaders. There is always a new Timothy looking for a Paul. It is our job to help them and give them a chance to shine for the Savior. Look around, do you see any Timothys? They are all around. Our stage at Faith Promise is now full of young adults using their talents and gifts for our Lord. It is so cool to watch.

What door can you open for a young leader? Whom can you help? At Faith Promise we have three young couples getting ready for the mission field and I could not be more excited. We have had several couples head to the field, but no young couples. God is still calling and we must make room for them, their gifts, ideas, and radical love for Jesus.

I have decided I will spend the rest of my ministry raising up young leaders. How about you? Let’s not drop the baton in the race for our Lord.

Just a thought.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

P.S. I hope some young leaders take advantage of the new coaching network I am starting.

 

Some Young Adults Rocking Their City

Hey Friends,

The LIT Conference is officially one month away in Nashville. I was in Nashville yesterday working with part of the staff at Cross Point Church. I have to tell you those guys blew me away. They are a sharp bunch of young people. Somewhere in the middle of the meeting when they saw the promotion had not been going great they “kicked it into a whole nother level.” It was unbelievable. I have heard a lot about the “sorry” work ethic of young adults and have participated in it at times. NOT these guys. They created an immediate campaign for me. It was awesome to watch them cook.

Realize none of what were doing was their “job.” This was above and beyond. I see why Cross Point is the 28th Fastest Growing Church in America. I was impressed. These guys took charge. They also gave me several different options and they were willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. Each one of them volunteered for additional work. Thank the Lord. I must say @petewilson and @jennicatron have done an amazing job in building their staff. My hat’s off to them.

I was in Dallas a week ago for the C3 conference and that, too, was full of 20-somethings fired up for the Lord and for His Church. I have to tell you as I watch this next generation I am not as concerned for the future of the Church, if Jesus tarries His coming. He is calling and raising up some amazing leaders for His Bride. They may fix some of the mess my generation caused.

Yesterday’s meeting also fired me up for the LIT Conference in Nashville. Let’s get the word out. It is going to be an an awesome day for the Kingdom.

We are better together.

Love ya a lot,

Pastor Chris

 

Who’s Coaching Your Team?

As a leader one of the main things we do is coach. The older you grow the more you should show others, especially the younger leaders, how to do it. This is done by finding apprentices and coaching them into great leaders.

There is one thing a coach must do that many of us do not want to do – have a hard conversation! I can promise you this took me years to be able to do (I’m still working on it). I remember being sick at my stomach days before I was to have a difficult conversation. Some of the time when it came time to do it – I failed. Chickened out! Has that ever happened to you? Many of us in ministry are so NICE that the difficult conversation is sometime out of the question.

I have watched many leaders try to hint at an issue or beat around the bush. It never works out when you try that road.

So, who do you coach? Do you have any apprentices? Are you able to have hard conversations? If you want to be a great leader then you will have to do what I did. Suck it up and just do it. I had many conversations with my stomach in knots. I have had to keep my hands under the table because they were shaking, even to the point I could not even take a sip of coffee. I have had many sleepless nights worrying how the meeting would go.

I found out that most of the time the conversations went so much better that I thought they would! Most people want to hear the truth and they want to get better. It is up to us to help them by telling the truth. The Word says, “Speak the truth in love.” Choosing not to tell the truth to others is not one of the most loving actions a leader can do. I wonder if we are worrying more about ourselves or others?

Just a thought.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

No Success Without a Successor

Hey Friends,

You have probably heard that there is no success without a successor. I believe it is true. Jesus said, “I would that you bear much fruit and that your fruit would remain.” How can our fruit remain if we don’t have a successor? Without a legacy, what will we leave behind? It is clearly the will of Christ that His Church continues to grow and thrive. Mt. 16:18 says, “I will build my Church…”

As leaders are you planning to leave a legacy? It is the job of leaders. Are we pouring into the next generation? The senior adults of today were the greatest innovators in the last 200 years. They invented Sunday School, age-graded ministries, children ministries, youth ministries… and led the greatest evangelical thrust in the last 2,000 years.  The question is, will they pass the baton well or drop the ball? Will we do it? When we were young we wanted to help but felt pushed out. Now that we get to be in the lead, will we do the same thing?

In a relay race the passing of the baton is the critical part of  the race. If you drop the ball you lose the race. In the relay if you drop the baton all you do is miss one of the medals. In the Kingdom if we drop the baton the consequences are eternal. Some generations have passed it well and others have fumbled it and the devastation is beyond belief.

On our way home from our family cruise we hit a bad snow storm. It took eight and a half hours to go 130 miles. It was the worst drive of my life. At one point I was blinded by snow. All I could see was the tracks right in front of me. I told Michele that if the person who left the tracks in front of us drove off a cliff we would go off the same cliff. The tracks we leave are very important. What kind of tracks are you leaving and who is following you?

Will there be a legacy?

Just a thought.

Pastor Chris

 

Responsiblity Plus

Hey Friends,

There are a lot of ways to lead or govern a church. This is even a volatile topic in many methods of ministry. There are many pastors who watch me and the way FPC is structured and wish they could be in the place I am. It is a great place to be, for sure. I get to make decisions that affect thousands of people and millions of dollars annually. I do not say this to brag, but to share the responsibility is real and palpable.

I have created an Executive Staff to make a team to help in the decision making process. We also have twelve Elders and Leadership Team members. I thank God for every one of them daily. But, at the end of the day I am responsible for direction and decisions. I tell you this because I ask for your prayers. The decisions we make weigh a ton. They affect so many people.

The stakes could not be higher – souls, heaven and hell! Lives weigh in the balance and what we do makes a huge difference in so many families. I thank God we are a family and a team at FPC. I am surrounded with some of the smartest and sharpest young leaders in the country. Many are trying to eat up some turf by becoming better leaders and taking on more responsibility.

Last week I had a meeting with Caroline Ervin from our staff. She is a young lady who wants to get better and make a difference. She already impacts hundreds of people every month. Since she took over the baptism ministry our numbers are off the chart. Thank you, Caroline. Thank God she is not alone.

Pray for us and pray for me. The future has never looked brighter and I have never been more excited.

Hope you feel the same way.

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

Legacy – A Forgotten Lesson!

Hey Friends,

Legacy is written about a lot, but thought about and acted on much less! I am not trying to be morbid nor do I have a consuming thought of death, but I realize that the race will be over for each of us sooner than we think. I just turned 50 and I can see the end of the ministry and this leadership race.

Yesterday my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and the same day a lady that used to play in one of our bands at church was killed. Life is short here on the cursed planet. Every day is a gift from God and should be lived to the fullest. Because of this we must make succession plans for our leadership and for the groups we lead.

Elton Trueblood wrote, “We have made at least a start in discovering the meaning in human life when we plant shade trees under which we know full well we will never sit.” I have watched many of my leadership and ministry heroes leave great organizations without any thought for the future. Some just walked away and let thriving ministries close! Not good leadership.

When I was in Israel I visited Yad Vashem. It is the Holocaust museum and is a must visit. Never have I been more moved as that day. There is a street in honor of the “Gentiles” who helped the Jews during this horrible time. For the famous ones like Corrie Ten Boom or Schindler, they plant a tree. This tree will give fruit after 30 years. It is a selfless tree. It is known as this because if you plant one you know you will never eat of the fruit. You planted it for others.

That is what we need to do for the next generation, for the church and for ministry. Far too many leaders hang on until they are too old. The church loses its focus and momentum, and the great leader leaves as the church is dropping like a rock without a plan for succession.

Let’s do better!

Love ya,

Pastor Chris

 

Look Behind You – Do You Care?

Hey Friends,

We all know it is hard not to be self-focused and self-absorbed! Come on, let’s be real, you know it to be true. The number one word used in the English language is “I.”

As leaders it is beyond imperative that we carefully consider those who will follow in our footsteps. This is even more important for those of us leading in the Kingdom of God – His Church!

Henry Ward Beecher said: “We should so live and labor in our time that what came to us as seed may go to the next generation as blossom; and what came to us as blossom may go to them as fruit. This is what we mean by progress.”

This is awesome, written by a Tennessean named Will Allen Dromgoole:

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and grey,
To chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned when safe of the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“Your wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”
The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pit-fall be,
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

Look behind you. Do you care to help those who will follow in your footsteps?

Just a thought.

Pastor Chris