Monday, August 12, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART, 13

27. A denominational name for your plant horribly limits who you'll be able to reach. 

If you've made it to #27 on the list then I commend you. However, this is the one principle where I start losing people. Just grit your teeth, open your mind and keep reading. There is absolutely no doubt that the most criticism we've ever received, and still do, is from our church name change. We started as Global Vision Baptist Church, which was a colossal mistake.  I felt like I had to launch it that way because it's what my friends told me was right.  Without realizing it I began to build the church that my friends and critics wanted but not the one my city needed.  So to just be blunt about it, we went through an absolute hellish nightmare when we changed to Global Vision Bible Church. Yeah, I know, God forbid we actually elevate Bible above Baptists.  As I look back that would certainly be one of the biggest things I would change if I had to do it all over again.  I would NEVER launch a church with a denominational name.  I know some of you are angry at this point, but you clicked the blog link.  As I challenge pastors with this idea, deep down many pastors would change the name of the church tomorrow if they could "get away with it." You can deny the reality all you wish but the cold hard facts are that the name on the front of your church will automatically tell people who you want to reach.  The church name will also tell most people who's allowed and who isn't.  Well, at least that's how outsiders will perceive it.  Someone said to me, 'The only reason you changed the name and dropped Baptist was to get more people in."  Well duh, Sherlock, that's EXACTLY why we did it.  As a matter of fact if you think that's compromise then I highly question your heart for the unsaved.  I personally didn't start a church so people of a particular persuasion would show up.  And then someone always says, "I wouldn't eat out of cans that had the labels removed from them."  Well, first of all, it's not about you, it's about THEM. Secondly, that's probably because you're not hungry enough.  Changing the name of our church was the single most liberating and explosive decision we've ever made as a church body.  I mean who's applause are we seeking at the end of the day?  John wasn't a Baptist denominationally.  He was a baptizer of men.  Jesus claimed no denomination.  None of the early believers claimed any denomination.  I'm glad for the "trail of blood" but the only blood that saves is from Jesus Christ.  I could go on and on.  The point is, you can call your church whatever you feel helps you sleep at night, but I promise you that placing it within a "framework" will greatly hinder who shows up.  True, that's not popular with the brethren.  But I'm called to reach the lost and disciple them.  I'm not called to make my friends happy.  Pastor/Planter, please listen.  You CANNOT successfully or Biblically Shepherd a church if you're only making decisions that impress the guys across town or across the country. Now don't misquote me here.  I DID NOT say that you can't reach the lost, have God's power or grow exponentially if you have a denominational name on your sign.  Please remember that the great majority of what I'm writing is in reference to NEW CHURCH PLANTS.  I preach in all sorts of churches with all sorts of names.  Maybe you like working within limitations and pre-conceived ideas.  That's cool.  I respect that. Rock on my friend.  I'm simply sharing what a lot of guys wish they could.  If you're in the planning phases for a church plant, you should really think this through.  There is no way around the fact that your name will make you or break you in your community.  Don't be married to anything but your calling and commitment to Christ.  "Labels are important" said no one ever in the Bible. Fuss over this all night and send those special messages my way but your churches "brand" is as important as the existence of the church itself.  I could really roll on with this for a very long time, but let's quit while we can.  The following is the letter that we shared on the night of our name change a few years ago.  It serves as an example of our thought process.  Proceed with caution.  This created quite a controversy:

"We realize that this decision will invite much criticism, but we must move forward in an effort to reach our hurting community for Christ.  This has been months in the making. This has been a unanimous decision on the part of our church family. It doesnt have to be the same decision that you would make.  However, it is ours and we will stand behind it. The following is the letter I read to our church family on Wednesday night, June 1st of 2011.  I cried through most of it but was met with grand applause from people that are eager to simply be used of God.
Here it is:
I wanted to write and give you a perspective of a change within our church that I feel to be very necessary.  I have prayed much over this decision and I am not only convinced that it is the best direction for Global Vision.  I am also fully persuaded that this is the very best time to implement this change.  We are growing with wonderful steadiness and we certainly anticipate much more growth throughout this year.  We have become a church that is known throughout this whole area for our un-compromising DNA structure: Powerful Preaching, Extravagant Generosity, Radical Compassion.  In order for us to move forward and stay true to the identity that God has given us, I believe a word must be changed in our name.  This is something that our community must see.  I feel strongly that GVBC should simply stand for Global Vision Bible Church.  Usually when our people are asked where they attend church they respond, "Global Vision".  We are becoming well known to many and I am grateful for this fact.  However a change in our name will allow us to be ourselves and not keep much of the community at arms length. Here is a list of reasons that I feel this is a very important move:

1. Because of our geographic location (Nashville) 95% of any Baptist church is automatically associated with the SBC. While I have many friends in the Convention, we are not affiliated as a church.  I preach in some of the greatest Southern Baptist churches in the country but I believe GV should remain Independent in our structure and governance.

2. The IFB "movement" as a whole is totally out of control and I do not personally wish to be identified with it any longer. Practically, I am worlds away from where I was even 5 years ago and I cannot in good conscience give my full support to a movement that has become nothing more than a mini controlling denomination.  I understand that every "camp" of churches has it's own issues, but I am unwilling to have GVBC submitted to the dictates of a legalistic mindset of man-made regulations.  I preach in dozens of IFB churches, but we desire to be truly Independent, even in our identity.

3. The type of families/people we are reaching could care less about such an issue. I have come to realize that people's lives are so much more important that the name a church has on the sign.  We are the church and if we are not healthy as a body it doesn't matter what the sign says. So many of our people are brand new Christians or are healing from an experience in the same type of church we are distancing ourselves from.

4. Because of our strong emphasis on Powerful Preaching, the term BIBLE would be much more in line with our DNA and overall vision.  People say that to remove "Baptist" will take away our identity.  Exactly! I want our identity to be nothing but the Word of God. We didn't start a church so people "like us" would show up. I want a church that is solely built upon the radical principles of the Book. If people know that there is a place like that, they will flock to it.  However, if they merely think we are the same kind of church they grew up in, then we won't even get them in the door. 
I don't want our church identity sabotaged by a loyalty to denomination, movement, camp or tradition. I want all my allegiance to God's Word.

5. Personally, I'm a very hard guy to put in a box.  I feel like I have not been true to who God made me to be and it has caused me much frustration. If I were to start the church over again tomorrow, this would be something I would do from the very beginning. God has done so much in my heart these last few years.  But overall, I have allowed this constant "identity crises" to become such a focus that it has greatly affected my judgment and my family.  I say "NO MORE". How foolish I have been to seek so much of man's approval.  I am at a point in my life and ministry that if I can't be who God made me at GVBC, then I must go somewhere that God can use me without the restraints of others that have nothing to do with our church.  However, I know this is where God has placed me and I am positive that this is His leading. I'm not dying on the hill of being "Baptist". But I will gladly lay down my life for the truth of the BIBLE.
We are going to remain as fundamentally sound as we have ever been.  We are not changing Bibles or compromising truth.  We will continue to keep a red-hot pulpit and build our congregation on expository preaching, soul-winning and world missions.  I am grateful for my IFB heritage, but it will not be my future. If others interpret this as an attack on IFB churches, then they have clearly read between the lines. "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind". This is not easy, but I know for us it is right.  I love you all.  Now, let's change the sign and reach this town for Christ."

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART 12

25. Numbers is a book of the Bible that has nothing to do with your Sunday average attendance. 

It doesn't take very long in the process of church planting before the "numbers" game starts playing with your heard.  Every pastor's fellowship you attend ends up being a "who's running more" event.  I finally came up with an answer that not only helped me divert the subject but it also seemed to get my point across to the inquisitive nature of those wanting to check us by our attendance.  When I'm asked, "How many are ya'll running Brother?" I now reply, "We can't even keep up with how many we're running. But we only count the one's we're actually catching." You see my friend it doesn't matter how long you are at this thing of pastoring, you will never get away from this question.  It's so very distracting.  You feel like you have to make excuses or dart around the issue.  We have been conditioned to measure everything we do by the "bigness" of it.  This can lead to some long and discouraging nights for a church planter.  We can get consumed with averages and the statistical data of our growth.  Now don't get me wrong, we count, we chart and we plan. But we do not use it as a measuring rod for our success or for our failure.  Numbers fluctuate according to a lot of variables.  Your church has a context based on the demographic of people that you are called to reach.  Ultimately numbers are souls that we are reaching and impacting for the Kingdom.  The numbers don't lie, but they do tease. You'll think that you're knocking it out of the park for a month and then everyone decides to go on vacation at the same time.  You can plan a huge attendance day, have it fall flat, and then two weeks later have the largest attendance for no reason and with no preparation.  It's crazy, but it's life.  It's okay to keep counting as long as that's not what your counting on for success.  People come and people go.  Numbers will always be a revolving door.  We are called to Gospel correctness and ministerial faithfulness.  Leave the results to God.  

26. If you do something too long people start making it Biblical. 

People have a unique way of getting into a rut and allowing what they've always done to be the sum total of what they always want.  It's been said that the definition of true insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." If you're not very careful you will create great limitations within the church plant that will be difficult to manage out of later.  You have to make lots of room for change an active part of who you are as a church body.  The smallest tweaks and changes can help you become a healthy church with a desire to move forward.  To give you the scope of this task let's think of an exercise.  In your mind, go to a church that's been around for more than 10 years.  Now think of how they do things.  There's a certain way they take the offering. They have announcements at a certain time.  The bulletin is prepared with flawless repetitiveness.  The style of the worship has the exact same flow.  The times of the services have always been in concrete. The building has taken on a look that is all too familiar.  That's just the starting point.  However, now think of what the reactions would be if on one weekend you went full color on the bulletin, moved the offering to a different time during the service, added one song of a different style, put the announcements on the screens, painted the walls and added a few minutes of length to the message.  You already know what would happen. All hell would break loose.  People would gripe, grumble, gossip and threaten the leadership with everything short of public execution.  Is it because they are wicked miscreants with a vendetta against the church?  NO. It's because we've trained them to hate change, embrace ordinary and rebel against anything that encroaches upon the "we've never seen it on this wise" mentality. About right now you're smirking as you read.  Why?  Because you know it's the absolute truth.  If you don't make changes, you are going to make more mistakes in the long run.  I'm not talking about consistency.  There's definitely something to be said about consistency.  But don't ever confuse that with predictable. Always showing up to do the same thing IS NOT what Biblical Christianity promotes.  As a matter of fact I find it perfectly normal as I study in depth the Book of Acts to have no idea what comes next.  The early church didn't live by tradition and it's secret to success wasn't "sameness."  It was built on the unpredictable movement of the Holy Spirit. "Suddenly" was a word that defined their structure.  The best thing you can do is purposely change things up at times.  Don't let people fall into the mindset that everything has to always be the same.  I bet you a dollar to a donut that many of you are reading this right now and you could make a list in 5 minutes as to what you are "locked" into that you would love to see changed.  Well, why not start writing that list right now, pray for wisdom, go to your team and immediately pull a whamy on folks this weekend.  If you're worried about who will leave over these little changes, worry no more because they're going to.  Just know this: The people that leave because they are married to a model or to a silly tradition aren't going to stick around anyhow.  Love them, but let them go.  If you don't they will hijack the entire church.  Chances are for some of you that has already happened.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART 11

24. The "exception to the rule" plants will make you feel like a total failure. 

About right now in our current series we need to get real serious with each other.  I'll be honest with you if you promise to do the same.  Okay, here I go.  I'm gonna tell you a secret.  There have been a number of times, especially in the early days of our church, that I would get consumed with reading what was going on in another new church and then I would be totally discouraged as I would start asking myself why we weren't experiencing the same growth.  It's an easy trap to fall into.  I would find myself driving through town on Sunday's before our service and be jealous over a brand new church that was launching in a school and the parking lot was jammed full for TWO SERVICES.  What? How could this be? It seemed to me like church planting was like a tornado.  The wind would jump around and pick and choose what places to bless and what places to simply leave alone.  It was frustrating and ultimately put me into a very depressive state of mind.  I would start watching some unheard of guy come out of nowhere and in a year's time, he's averaging 1,000 people.  Then I'd hear about another one.  Pretty soon it seemed like everyone started in a living room and then grew overnight into a mega church.  I felt like a failure.  I began to question my calling, my methods and my dad-gum sanity.  I kept telling myself, "It's about to happen here. I know it.  I believe it." But then, our 75 seat store-front building wouldn't even be half full on a good Sunday.  I couldn't help but take my frustrations out on my wife and kids.  I was consumed with grow, grow, grow. "If some no name kid can do it, surely we can", I would keep telling myself.  Then one day I had a convicting encounter with the Holy Spirit on the way to our church.  I was grumbling in the car as I passed a very new church with a very full parking lot.  They had signage par-excellance and parking attendants everywhere.  People were pouring into a school building by the dozens.  Here I was still leading the singing, preaching and holding everything else together. It was at that very moment that God dropped a bombshell into my spirit.  It went something like this. "What if everything you want me to do at Global Vision is actually what I decide to do in the church across town? Can you be okay with that? Am I enough or do you have to be bigger, better and more noticed.  Now walk into the store-front and faithfully preach the Bible like 2,500 people are there.  Eventually the church will catch up to your vision." BOOM BABY! It was like a lightning bolt of God's grace swept over me in the car and I've not looked back.  Now I've still wondered with amazement at the growth of others but I can rest easily in the fact that "Except the LORD build the house they labor in vain that build it." You'll notice in that verse that the house gets built both ways.  Our way or God's way.  Now here's what I mean by "exception to the rule" church plants.  We never really know the back story of another church. Everyone launches differently.  Some have an entire team of committed and gifted leaders from day one.  Some acquire a building before the green light is given.  Many these days, and it's a good thing, go through amazing church planting networks and are able to receive large "launch grants." Some groups are pulled out of one congregation and propelled into a brand new church.  Regardless of how they started you can know that they all had great challenges.  In our case, I had never heard of a church planting network, never had the sense to raise a dime, had no local church support, no building in mind, 12 interested people, 3 infant children, huge personal debt from evangelism, no pastoral experience but a massive amount of passion and focus. So, almost 7 years later here we are. Guess what? We're still learning as we go and perfecting as we grow.  It's been an extraordinary journey.  However, I don't believe I would have ever survived had I not been convicted by God  to get my eyes off of the "other" churches.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART 10

We are only going to cover one principle tonight. The length and importance of this principle is so very valuable.  As a matter of fact, this ONE point on the list is the MOST VITAL hurdle to healthy and continual growth in any church but especially a new plant.

23. If you are unclear on your vision, then the people are totally ignorant of it. (DNA)

There is absolutely no way that I can over stress this point. You are working backwards uphill and going nowhere until you get this. You have got to be extraordinarily precise on your churches "DNA" structure. The vision behind your church is as important as the very church itself. It took me 3 years of absolute heartache and raging frustration to learn this. If you don't clearly know WHY your church exists and WHAT it's called to do then I promise that no one else does either. People are weary of long mission statements that have no real value. Repeating a paragraph over and over again does not get the calling into the hearts of the congregation. People MUST have something simple, concise, easy to package, and non bulky to carry around with them. I'd personally say that 5 things to remember is way too much. More than a sentence and people are bored. It needs to be so powerful yet so simplistic that you could fit it in the palm of your hand. Something important to keep in mind is that DNA is individually dispensed. It's great to "borrow brains" but your vision and DNA must be unique to who you are and the context in which you've been placed. Often, you'll get the passion for the new churches DNA by simply applying what you as the leader are gifted to do. This is exactly how Global Vision Bible Church came up with a fixed and foundational structure that all of our people can easily describe. I was asked one day to list 3 things I want to be remembered for. It was an easy task because there are 3 things that I love and am totally passionate about. I am addicted to Expository Preaching. My spiritual gift is giving and my heart is moved beyond words by the hurting, broken and addicted. So boom, there you have it. I came to a crossroads that day and I knew then that we must make those very principles the "Existing Purpose" behind our church. So from that day until now, EVERYTHING we do is filtered through our three-fold DNA: Powerful Preaching, Extravagant Generosity, Radical Compassion. Honestly, it was like we had completely re-launched the church. It gave us life, purpose and massive amounts of unity. Here's an exercise that will give you a snapshot of how well your congregation is on knowing the vision.  Start asking people at random "Why does our church exist?" More times than not you'll start getting the Porky Pig response as they stutter their way into some answer that is a generic as Sam's Choice Cola. I'm telling you the straight up truth that if you do not fervently and consistently promote the church's DNA then you will remain in frustration and very little is going to get accomplished. By the way, the DNA is not up for grabs and should not be compromised.  People will buck the system and rock the boat, but stand your ground.  God gave you a vision and it's not up for vote.  Quit letting everyone who wasn't called tell you how things should be.  Yeah, you'll be called a dictator by immature people but those that stick with you will call you a strong leader that knows where he needs to go.  Committees and boards CANNOT take the place of the DNA that God births in your heart. If I could only do one thing over, I'd never again make the mistake of launching without a CLEAR and CONCISE reason for the church's whole existence. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART 9

The two principles that we are going to cover today are indeed a delicate balance in the ministry.  Buckle-up, let's ride.

21. Starting a church with mostly family will serve to be a fatal mistake. 

Now this may sound like a very strange principle, but hang with me a few moments as we un-package this idea.  If you have several family members in the same geographic area in which you plan on planting, then it's normally a given that they are going to launch with you.  This can be a blessing in many ways but can turn into a grave mistake in the future. Your family will ALWAYS view you differently from the rest of the congregation.  If you're not careful they will not only have an un-restricted access that no one else has, they will also set unrealistic expectations on your time.  Now, I personally have the joy of pastoring both my Mom and my Dad.  The wild part is that they have been divorced since I was 4 but they are the best of friends and are both very faithful in our church.  However, when problems have risen within the church you have to constantly fight the temptation for your family to naturally want to stand up for you.  Thats a difficult balance indeed.  To many people it will seem as though "blood is thicker than water" and offense will be taken.  I'm not telling you to avoid your family or deny them access to the church services.  I'm saying that you should not build your core group or your leadership model based on them.  Your family will naturally be more critical of what you do and decisions that you make and they will not see any problem voicing those opinions.  It will also serve as a a horrible Thanksgiving gathering when you have to see family that have recently gotten ticked off and left your church.

22. If you're committed to reaching unchurched people, prepare for churched people to misunderstand you. 

I cannot stress this point enough.  I'm telling you right now you need to make up your mind who you want to reach.  You can reach out to people in other churches and in a short amount of time you will develop a church of disgruntled people that view your church solely through the misgivings of the one they left.  This type of church always falls into maintenance mode.  I mean by that it merely maintains what it already has but rarely sees growth.  You can also set your sails in the direction of reaching the unchurched.  This has been the goal of Global Vision and trust me when I tell you it has cost us greatly.  People that aren't used to an "outreach" church don't understand why you say or do certain things.  Traditionalized people expect you to use "Christianeze" phrases and do what the church has always done.  Are you ready for this: LET THEM GO.  Trust me, they are leaving anyhow.  Jesus came to "seek and to save that which was lost."  He even stated that "they that are whole need not a physician."  It's a great marriage when you can get previously churched folks to understand the vision of reaching the lost and then amalgamate them both together.  But in order to do so you have to make it an active part of your core values and you must teach on the idea many many times throughout the year.  Even with all that you are going to have people not understand or even refuse to understand why you have to rock the boat so much in reaching the unchurched of your community.  People will try to to tell you that reaching the lost is not what a New Testament church really is.  Others will scream "compromiser." On and on it goes.  Just put your feet to the ground and move forward with your calling.  I remind our people at least once a month that "Global Vision exists for the folks who aren't here yet." Don't let people sit around with a consumer mindset.  Train people to serve and quit letting them get spoiled by being served.  Face it: Your church is either growing or simply maintaining who's already there.  There's no two ways about it.  Prepare for other preachers to hate you and for your own people to misunderstand you.  By the way, the biggest insult and slap in the face will come when you've reached an unchurched person, then deeply discipled and trained them and then they get around some sour churched people and they come to you saying "We bring in too many sick people."  WOW! Just kick me in the face next time. I refuse to just babysit who we already have.  Let's raise up an army of people that are consumed with reaching the lost, hurting, addicted and marginalized.  William Booth said it best. "Others Lord Yes others, may this my motto be.  Others Lord Yes others, that I might be like Thee."

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART 8

Tonight's post is going to be a bit shorter as I am only dealing with principle #20. The biggest reason for this is that I really want this lesson to sink in, especially the night before your biggest day of high's and lows.

20. If the planting personality leaves too soon, the church won't survive.

God has uniquely gifted certain men for the area of church planting.  It's much different from taking an existing church.  Now that's not to minimize the huge challenges and burdens of that particular transition, but that's another post for another time from someone unlike me who has done it.  Whenever God calls and equips an individual to launch a brand new church He will give him certain trademarks that will draw people to him. I need to make it clear that a new church will begin to take on the personality of the planter within the first 5 years but you MUST fight the natural tendency for the church to become crippled by the personality of the Pastor. I made this mistake in the early days of Global Vision and it's taken a lot of un-learning and delegation to correct it.  If you allow the church to become utterly dependent on the planter, then it will gladly do so.  The two results will be the laziness of the congregation and the abuse of the planter.  You have to learn early on to strike a balance and draw some very clear lines.  With that being said, we still must focus on the fact that a new church cannot handle too quick of a leadership change.  If God called you to "birth" a church then he didn't call you to leave it on the table and let it suffocate.  It takes time, like years, to develop the spiritual temperature of a New Testament church.  I've been tempted to bail on many occasions.  Did I mention many? Theres even a time that I took my resignation letter into the pulpit for a Wednesday night service but so few people actually showed up I though it would be foolish to read it.  I look back now and realize that had I left, the church would have folded.  Now at this point I know some critical individual that has nothing better to do than to browse blogs all day is going to say, "Brother, it's the Lord that builds the house." Yes, indeed it is, but He he has called men to START and to STICK as He does build the work.  Planting friend, I know you get discouraged.  I know it's extremely difficult.  I realize you're at your wits end, but PRESS ON.  The church will never be able to survive if the one who creates the vision leaves because it's difficult.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

Cold Hard Facts On Church Planting, PART 7

I hope you're still with us on this important church planting journey.  I just received a message from a planter celebrating 5 years at his current plant.  He stated that he wished he had such a list when he launched.  Please read and process these facts.

17. You'll  have to suffer through some major disloyalty in the process of building the right team. 

This is one of the most difficult lessons that a church planter will have to learn.  However, I say with confidence that you really need to embrace this process.  Let me say right up front that not everyone who leaves the team or the church for that matter are your enemy.  Sometimes people move away and often times the Lord will lead folks into a new ministry endeavor.  But here's the real facts.  Staff members WILL burn you.  It's something that you have got to endure but you will rarely see it coming.  Let me interject here that my lovely wife ALWAYS saw it coming but I was too proud to listen to her godly advice.  When we went through our name change, music change and ministry philosophy overhaul, we not only lost a few families, we lost valuable staff members.  Sometimes they leave quietly, but sometimes they will go on a "this place sucks and you need to leave with me right now" campaign. However it happens, just know that it is going to happen.  It may be a super smooth transition or it may totally rock your world and congregation for a long time to come.  Here's a rule I've developed: Find the people that stick with you during the most difficult times and somewhere down the road, hire them.  In the process of developing the right team, whether that's two people or a hundred people, make sure that loyalty to the vision as well as to each other is a core value in the relationship.  More on this when we get to team building later on the list. 

18. It's easier to raise money than it is volunteers. 

Now don't get me wrong, money certainly doesn't come easily these days, especially in new ministries.  We've already dealt with our ongoing need for more resources.  However what most guys will find is that it takes tons more energy to get people to volunteer for ministry than it does to get them to give some money.  When people give in an offering it has a way of appeasing their conscience and allows them to get comfortable just sitting as a consumer.  We have a deep and biblical responsibility to move people from consumerism to kingdom-minded service.  You'll have to come up with creative ways to get people involved in the work.  Teaching on spiritual gifts won't be enough.  I know this because I had that mindset.  People hear what you say and even get excited about pinpointing what their gift is, but in the end they sit on their talents.  Traditional church has ruined us by teaching that the pastor and paid staff are the ones that need to be doing the ministry.  That is a totally unbiblical concept.  It is the people within the body that must take up the responsibility of serving.  One caution here: You as a Lead Pastor must passionately preach on this subject and make it a deeply important principle or you will never be able to move forward.  

19. People that say "We are never leaving" already have one foot out the door. 

I know you love to hear people brag on the church, talk about the worship and tell everyone what a splendid communicator you are.  But I've learned the hard way more times than I can count that when people have to verbally tell me "we're never leaving" they're actually making themselves feel better about the eventual departure that they are already planning.  If you think that's too harsh, then just enjoy the accolades and don't call me when it happens.  As a matter of fact, just this week I had a family call me and say, 'You are the greatest preacher we know and we love what God is doing but we are looking elsewhere."  Mind you this is the same family that told me that they'll never look elsewhere because only God could lead them to a church this wonderful.  I'm learning to listen to that type of talk as if the one speaking is Charlie Brown's teacher: Womp womp womp womp womp.   People that really love your church and truly have no intentions of leaving won't have to tell you.  They will show up, give to the Lord of their resources, not allow others to criticize the vision and ultimately serve their butts off. Actions speak louder than words.