Wednesday, March 28

What Every Sunday School Leader Needs To Know

I'm working on a resource that will be something that every local church can put in the hands of every Sunday School Teacher/Leader they have.

I thought it would be interesting to throw it out on the blog to see what some of you think every Sunday School teacher needs to know. (No, I'm not out of ideas and using this as a cheap way to get you to do my work!) This is not the time to tell me all the reasons we shouldn't be doing Sunday resist the temptation. This is a resource for the many hundreds of churches we have who are doing Sunday School and are interested in seeing people become more like Jesus Christ.

So, what would you say?


Missional has replaced 'relevant' as the word to use when you want someone to think you know what you're talking about.

People are saying, "Our church is missional...". What do they really mean by that? Are they really ready or willing to be missional at any cost?

You can tell if a church is truly missional by talking to its members. Do they know what the church is passionate about? Can they repeat the mission statement or mantra? Are they aware of clearly marked on-ramps to get involved in the 'mission'? Can they point to recent results of their church being missional?

You can also tell by looking at the church's media (worship guides, websites, etc). I've heard recently that you have 8 seconds to convince me whether or not I should listen to you. Apparently, 8 seconds is the max time it takes a web page to load with high speed. If it's not there in 8 seconds, we move on. I visit a lot of church sites and I often wonder, "Why is it so hard to find out what this church is all about?" If they are so passionate about being missional, why isn't it upfront?

What do you think? What does missional mean? Heard or seen any good mission statements lately?

Monday, March 26


I started my day today by watching the worship service from last week's 722 (North Point's singles/young adult service)

Close the door, set your phone to voicemail, and just enjoy God's presence as you watch and listen to the worship:

Innovate, Create, Start Something New

When was the last time you simply 'created' something? What new thing could happen in your ministry this Spring, this month, or even this week, that would make a difference in people's lives? Is your ministry fresh? Is it adaptive? Is it flexible? Are you adjusting to and responding to the needs of culture? If nothing else, put some fresh paint on something! Change the set up of your stage, change your order of service, do something to freshen things up. If you take heat, congratulations! People noticed!

Here's a top ten list I borrowed from Tony Morgan. Tony was on staff at Granger before moving over to be with Perry Noble at New Spring.

10 Signs You're not Ready for Change
1. You see other organizations as the competition instead of the idea incubators.
2. You're trying to avoid criticism that comes when you fail...and when you succeed.
3. You're afraid of the culture.
4. Your life is fast and cluttered and there's no space to dream.
5. You value getting it right over getting started.
6. You believe conflict is a bad thing.
7. You've stopped asking questions.
8. You think systems and strategy are the enemy of creativity.
9. You're expecting to receive credit for your ideas.
10. You think you've already arrived.

Friday, March 23

Guptill Family Blog

I think it's been awhile since I mentioned our family blog...

Yeah, I'm proud!

Thursday, March 22

C3 - Session 6 - Ed Young

C3 usually holds it's intensives on Wednesday and then the Thursday and Friday sessions are 'general' - everyone crammed in the worship center. If you are looking for a creative blast on a particular area of ministry, check out next year's intensives and go down to Dallas a day early.

The last session was Ed Young wrapping things up with some random thoughts:
  • Luke 19; He likened Zacchaeus to people who are in a "seek-him-more" tree (say it fast and it might rhyme with sycamore)
  • Take people where they need to go, not where they want to go
  • The best volunteers are the people you have to go after (he mentioned that the ones who keep popping up wanting to run different ministries often have agendas/issues, he went on to give a funny illustration about de-kooking your church once a year!)
  • Do the toughest jobs 1st
  • 80% of a Sr.Pastor's job is preaching, preaching is huge
  • "It's all about the weekend stupid" (this is a bit of a mantra around Fellowship, I heard it the first time I was there, and it shook me up in that it made me really think about what was the biggest front door opportunity for the unchurched. Fellowship puts almost all of their eggs in the weekend basket and it is paying off.)
  • If you don't take will break
  • Leadership is measured when you aren't there
  • If it's worth doing, it's worth delegating
  • Delegate and then celebrate
  • Have a funeral in your mind for negative people (had to be there, we were all laughing)

Wednesday, March 21

Comments on Comments

If you are a blogger, you will appreciate this...I hope. Back before Christmas my former Assistant switched the layout of my blog. When she reset it, the settings for allowing comments got changed. I don't blog for comments, but it is nice to dialogue once in awhile and know that someone is reading. Anyhow, I noticed today that there were 40 comments that I hadn't monitored and accepted. So, if you sent a comment and I didn't interact, MY APOLOGIES!!

To all of you who have been tracking my blog, thanks!


C3 - Session 5 - TD Jakes

Session 4 was Ed Young Sr and, well, there's not much to report about that session. They can't all be winners.

It's always a privilege to hear Bishop Jakes live. He has presence, passion, and a way of unpacking scripture that few people have. His message from C3 '06 is an absolute must have. Buy the DVD, it's amazing.

Ex 4:1-12; last year he preached on the 10 Commandments of Leadership from the life of Moses. This year, he picked up where he left off and gave us More Mo to think about.

  • You haven't had faith until God has taken you someplace where you have never been
  • You can't do ministry, you're not prepared, you have to be driven to your knees
  • If you aren't progressive, you will worship where God 'was' (that is good stuff right there)
  1. The Shepherd's Source - know how God has uniquely created and gifted you; Moses means, 'drawn out', his mother drew him out of the water, but God was going to draw him out for leadership; God has or will equip you for everything you need to do
  2. The Shepherd's Spirit - something unique that God does in your heart; something that God gives you a passion for; what is special about your ministry? do people know your one vision?
  3. The Shepherd's Staff - what is in your hand? Have you ever felt like the whole world was pressing in on you and all you had in your hand was a stick?; If you don't stretch your staff, you will lose them; you have to be able to lean on your staff;
  4. The Shepherd's Stutter - why does God ask us to do what we feel incapable of doing?; write down whatever your stutter is;

After his session they had a Q & A and the Bishop offered these thoughts on sermon prep:

  • Study yourself full
  • Think yourself clear
  • Pray yourself hot
  • Let yourself go

C3 - Session 3 - Mark Driscoll

Mark is a preacher. He was the third speaker, and you noticed right away that he had an entirely different style than the first two, Ed and Craig. Google Mark and you will find his church, blog, books, etc.

He hit the stage preaching and he did not let up. It was very powerful. His text was 1 Cor 15:1-4
About the Gospel message, he said:
  • It's Continual -- it reminds us
  • It's Proclamational -- it tells God's story
  • It's Personal -- "you received"
  • It's Eternal -- there is no life, hope, joy apart from the gospel
  • It's Central -- it's of 1st importance
  • It's Eternal -- handed from one generation to the next
  • It's Christological -- it's all about Jesus
  • It's Penal -- it's the Way and the only Way
  • It's Substitutional -- in the great exchange, God became our sin
  • It's Eschatological -- it shows us our future

2 Enemies to the Gospel and our ministry

1. Idolatry -- You won't break the other 8 Commandments if you keep the 1st two; When we elevate 'good' things to make them 'God' things, that's idolatry; We create a 'functional-savior' to get us out of whatever 'hell' we are in; We get angry at the real God for not serving our false god;

2. Religion -- Religion doesn't understnad the Gospel; Religion says if you obey, God will love you - the Gospel says God loves you, you can obey; Religion says the world is about good people and bad people, the Gospel is about repented and unrepented (if the world was an old western movie, we'd all wear black hats); Religion is all about our birth family, the Gospel is all about our new birth family; Religion is about what I do, Gospel is about what Jesus has doen; Religion is about getting from God, Gospel is about getting God; Religion is a stick, God is a pinata (I love that line); Religion sees hardship as punishment, Gospel recognizes that not all suffering is bad; Religion is about me, the Gospel is about Jesus; Religion ends in pride or despair, Gospel is about Jesus.

Powerful Stuff. How does this affect what you are doing today?

Tuesday, March 20

C3 - Session 2 - Craig Groeschel

OK, what did Groeschel say at C3? If you are unfamiliar with Craig, you need to see his deal at If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “One church, many locations…” Craig is the pioneer of that movement. Media, creativity and an insatiable appetite to reach the lost for Christ would describe Craig.

Here are some point form highlights. (Order the DVD’s from if you are interested)
Acts 4 was his text, “You’re an idiot” was his title.
He went on to say that whenever someone says, “Bless your heart…” they are really saying, “You’re an idiot”. It was so funny! Especially since I was sitting with Dawn Marie Colaw who is always saying, “Bless your heart Tim”. Now I know what Dawn has meant all along ;->
Satan wants to talk you out of your dreams
Who does God use to turn ‘what if’ into ‘what is?’ Insecure, Risk Taking, Pain Enduring, Idiots Acts 4:13
Insecure: we tend to want everyone to like and approve of everything we do; if you blame yourself when attendance declines, you’ll be tempted to take the credit when things increase
Risk Taking: Let’s be in a perpetual state of discomfort; risk-taking leaders need to hear people saying, “that will never work”
Pain-Enduring: People come to God hoping that he will eliminate their pain; Jesus didn’t die to make us safe and comfortable; The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be is your unwillingness to endure the pain to get there; pay the price, play hurt, toughen up, take it for the team, pain is a part of the ministry deal; What painful decision have you been avoiding?
Idiots: Not just any idiots, these guys had been with Jesus (Acts 4); Failure is mandatory; learn from your risks and mistakes; learn from being aggressive and progressive, not from being safe; Listen to your wife, pray like crazy
Don’t insult God by dreaming too small
Review the history of your church and its ‘unbelievable beginnings’, and dream on how to do it again in a new way

Tuesday, March 13

C3 - Session 1 - Ed Young

-Ed had a spiral staircase brought onto the stage to illustrate our upward trajectory when we turn "what if" into "what is"
-Delegation: Your people are the staff of your church
-Delegation is not relegation. It's not just getting things off your plate
-Delegation is the catalyst of creativity. You have to delegate to create the time and the margin to be really creative.
-What keeps me from delegating? Conflict-I don't want to mess with it, I want to be liked; Chaos-It's messy stuff, if someone does a good job, it'll mess with my pride; Carnage-there will be casualties
-Things you can't delegate: Vision-you are the only one who can cast vision for your deal; Team Building-You are the only one who can motivate the team; Organization-you must make the big moves; Investigation-the leader has to be the one evaluating what's going on

*Bonus thought - Churches are basically about Bodies, Baptisms, and Budgets

Monday, March 12

Would You Attend Your Church If You Didn't Work There?

The following is an excellent article from

If You Weren’t On Staff At Your Church, Would You Worship There?
Last week on the Swerve Blog, Craig Groeschel asked three questions that I want to pose to you this Monday Morning. How you answer these questions will have great implications on your ministry and your church. They are questions that will shape how you view your job; how your prioritize your tasks today; and how effective your church will be tomorrow. Here are the three questions Craig asks...
1. If you weren’t on staff at your church, would you worship there? I think we’ve all served at churches that we wouldn’t worship at. (I know I have). And many times we are in the process of transitioning them into a church that we’d love to attend. If you’re in that position right now, this is still a great question to ask. Why wouldn’t you want to worship there? And what is keeping other people away from the church that you serve?
2. If you didn’t know ANYTHING about Jesus, what would you know about him after a normal weekend at your church? Think about your service yesterday. If you didn’t know squat about Jesus yesterday morning; what would you know about Him or think about Him today? This is a question that we need to ask each and every week. How does your church communicate Jesus?
3. If you had a loved one who didn’t know Christ, and they had one week left to live, would you take them to your church or another? In this last question, it goes one level deeper. How’s your church doing at communicating the main message? Truthfully; would you take your dying unsaved mother to a service at your church or another church across town? How clear is the gospel presented in your church?
These are some pretty heavy questions. But they are important questions. Questions we all need to answer… right now.

The Creative Church Conference

Yeah, yeah, Sorry I haven't posted in awhile ;-> Hey, I've been in a van with the Spiritual Formation Department traveling almost every square inch of North and South Carolina. It's hard to post on a blog from a van! We trained around 850 people in 8 days. Maybe more on that later...

Back in February my Adult Ministry Cabinet and myself attended the C3 Conference at Fellowship Church, Dallas.

In the next few postings, I'll do my best to unpack some of the main ideas from this very inspiring conference. This was my third trip to this conference, and it never disappoints.

The theme this year was, "What If?" The idea was to challenge us to start asking brave, visionary and even dangerous, "What If" type questions. Here are a few thoughts from the inside of the note-taker journal deal they gave out:

What if the church was more than a collection of the already convinced?
What if the church challenged tradition while at the same time protected the integrity of Christ's message?
What if everyone who walked through the doors could understand the message?
What if the church provided real answers for real life?

"In effect", it goes on to say, "we want you to turn what if into what is".

How long has it been since you just closed your eyes and really allowed yourself to dream crazy, God-sized dreams for your ministry? - Tim

Pre-Marital Counseling

Jay Guptill shared this new resource with my Adult Ministry Cabinet while we were attending the Creative Church Conference in Dallas a few weeks ago.

If you are looking for a solid resource to help your couples be best prepared for the journey ahead, this is definitely worth looking into.