The Church, Starving Artists, Sellouts, & Tweeners

When our church was interviewing architects for our building design, in trying to understand who we are, one group posed a fascinating question: If your church's building were a car, what would it be? I LOVED that question because it allowed us to be so descriptive in a completely fresh way (our answer was a Suburban with leather seats, btw).

I thought about that question when I was looking at our church through a different lens this week: If we were a band, who would we be? Realizing that some bands and groups are starving artists who are hyper-talented but connect with very few people, some are complete sell-outs, and a precious few are great and connect with millions of people--it seems like a great question to ask of a church. For Lake Hills Church, the answers really don't have anything to do with a musical style that we would or would not use in a worship service per se, but they reveal volumes about who we are:

U2--phenomenal artists, groundbreaking sounds, lyrics, and subject matter for a rock band. AND they touch hearts and stimulate minds through a phenomenal sense of poetry and aesthetic better than anyone alive. They're not afraid to entertain and celebrate while also making you think. And they've almost singlehandedly made social activism that makes a difference cool.
Lyle Lovett--Texas to the bone because that's who he genuinely is, but his intelligent lyrics transcend the Lone Star State and his comfortable-in-his-own-skin persona works in Carnegie Hall as easily as it does in Gruene Hall. Precious few people can pull off (custom-made) pointy-toe cowboy boots and Armani.
Hillsong Worship--as well as anyone around, they know who they are and why they do what they do, and they never stand pat. They are always evolving, growing, and breaking new ground lyrically and musically.
The Rolling Stones--the power of energy. There's something undeniably powerful and compelling about Mick's stage presence, Keith's guitar and Charlie's backbeat.

Who (in addition to Jesus!) would your church's culture, personality and presence reflect and why?


Clarifying... Pt. 3: Voice & Responsibility

As you clarify and refine the vision for your team/staff/church/business/school/family, you also have to clarify and refine the VOICE. The voice of a team is the shared sense of mission, joy, urgency, passion, work ethic, philosophy, and responsibility that defines the culture of that team. I CANNOT overstate how mission-critical the voice of your team is. It is sink-or-swim, do-or-die, life-and-death critical.

Some people that you recruit/hire/bring on will just "get it," almost from before day one. Some people don't get it yet, but they will as you teach and share it. And, some won't. For those who won't or can't, it means that you hired the wrong person. Not necessarily a bad person, but the wrong person for this team. 

And, some people are just so wounded that they can't get out of their own way emotionally and relationally and it doesn't matter what you do--it will never be enough. We have to love these people, invite them to join us in the larger mission/vision of the team, and help them where we can (or help them find help where we can't help them). But because of our responsibility to the larger team and mission or vision, we can't allow an individual or small group of people to be a drag and drain on our overall culture, performance, and team. 

Hopefully, we're engaged in something so audacious, so monumental, and significant, that to allow that would be catastrophic to our cause. As the leader, we don't have the luxury of settling for the catastrophe of mediocrity. We are responsible and accountable for the vision and the voice that are the vehicles for our vocation, our calling. Regardless of our leadership context or style, our personality, the benefits and rewards, or challenges and obstacles--responsibility is the defining characteristic of leadership. Accepting and embracing responsibility reveals a true leader.



Clarifying Dreams & Vision, Pt. 2

Way back in Feb. I wrote Clarifying Dreams & Visions as a calm, almost academic reflection on Dr. Sam Chand's observation: Leadership is like changing the fan belt on your car. While driving down the highway.

At the time, I didn't intend it to be a multi-part posting. But, in the interim six months, God has changed not only the fan belts of our church and my life, but the oil, radiator fluid, all four tires, the transmission, and the very engine itself. All, while driving down the highway. And, sure enough, he has used this process to clarify and refine the vision that he has called us to realize.

The vehicle has changed. Significantly. But the destination, the object of our prayers, work, dreams, hopes, time, resources, pain, and joy remains the same as it ever was: TO GROW THE COMMUNITY OF CHRIST ONE LIFE AT A TIME.

Over the next few days, I'm going to share some of what we've learned and experienced and decided as a result of this crazy ride. Here's the first thing: THE COMMITMENT TO TRAVEL TRUMPS THE MODE OF TRAVEL. If your car breaks down, don't abandon the journey. Repair it or replace it, but whatever you do, keep moving!

If your team's communication, passion, unity, joy, or effectiveness breaks down, the leader is responsible/accountable to repair/replace whatever or whomever needs to be repaired/replaced. The journey (mission, vision, purpose) is too important and the stakes are too high to abandon the journey.


The Exponential Power of Birthdays

If you can tell your story simply and beautifully, you've got a shot. That's one of the reasons that I'm a big fan of charity: water, the NYC non-profit started by Scott Harrison <> to provide clean water to people in developing nations. The other reason is that they are changing the world by changing people's lives right here, right now.

To celebrate their founding every September, charity: water launches a specifically targeted mission to raise funds for digging water wells in a particular region of the world. This year, they are targeting the Bayaka people of Central African Republic. Take 5 minutes and see their story and how you can simply and powerfully make a difference below. Then, go to the charity: water website (plus, you'll see how well Scott's wife Vik <> crafts their communications).

In four years, charity: water has gone from being a cool idea to a legitimate world-changer. I know these people and what they're doing and I'm honored to call them friends. They're making a difference and doing it for all the right reasons. They do what they do really, really well. And, above all else, they're the real deal.

charity: water 2010 September Campaign: Clean Water for the Bayaka from charity: water on Vimeo.


Clarifying Dreams & Visions

At last week's C3 Conference, Dr. Sam Chand likened leadership to changing a fan belt on your car while driving down the highway.

Just for the record, he's right.

God is in the midst of changing some fan belts in me, in our family, and in Lake Hills Church--all while we continue screaming down the highway. It is an incredibly fun, somewhat scary, hugely faith-building time. It's a time of praying, dreaming, seeking counsel, praying, planning, and praying.

I don't know exactly what the next set of fan belts looks like yet, but I know they are bigger and able to sustain higher speeds, hotter temperatures, and greater loads. These dreams and visions that God is leading us into demand change. But, they are clarifying who we are, what we do, and who God wants to be a part of them.

Buckle up.




Good is the enemy of best.

When you woke up this morning, you had a choice: Invest yourself in the things that matter. Or, chase rabbits.

Rabbits are the distractions that vie for our time, attention, money, energy, and soul. Some people use email to further their purpose and reason for getting up in the morning. Most people use it to distract themselves from the banality of their job. Some people use Twitter to build a brand, communicate quickly and concisely with their audience, or drive people to their website. Most use it to distract themselves from the task at hand, whatever it may be.

Sometimes, chasing people down who've left your company, church, or team is a distraction. Or, chasing people down to try and change their mind or opinion is usually a distraction. When someone lobs a false accusation at you, defending yourself can be a distraction.

A good friend of mine was asked by the mayor of his small town to serve on his community's school board. Taking his responsibility seriously, my friend proposed instituting higher accountability for the teachers in that system. In an effort to derail that direction, defenders of the status quo hurled accusations of racism at him. He listened to their charges, dismissed them as a desperate attempt to distract from the task at hand--he did not even respond to the charges, they were so ludicrous--and moved forward the work to serve the students of that system.

The word distraction tells us what it is: dis ~ away from; tract ~ to draw/carry. To draw or carry away from.

What distractions are drawing or carrying you away from what you GET to do today, this week? Get past them and get on with it.




14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town...16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 
       Matt. 10:14, 16

Judgmentalism and Discernment are like twin sisters: One is ugly as homemade sin and the other is a knockout beauty. Yesterday's post looked at judgmentalism--and she's still ugly. But, discernment is a beautiful thing in the life of someone who prays for it, exercises it, and reaps the benefits of it.

We have to be shrewd, even cunning, when it comes to choosing what streams we drink from, what spiritual/relational/intellectual food we ingest and metabolize, and what relationships we cultivate. But, the line between judgmental and discerning is hairline-thin. It's a matter of the heart.



The army of God is the only one who shoots its own wounded.

That statement hits just a little too close to home. Not because of wrongs I've suffered or wounds I've received, though. It hits so close because of wrongs I've committed and wounds I've inflicted. I've done it: Judging another person by deciding in my own mind what their motives, insecurities, and intentions are based solely on what they do.

When God chose David as the second king of Israel, he told Samuel during the vetting process that it's people who judge by appearances, but God examines the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Whenever I have judged exclusively by externals, I've noticed that I'm excluding several significant internal realities:

  1. The actual heart condition of the other person. Jeremiah 17:9 says that no one can understand the heart. That's God's job.
  2. Hurt people hurt people. Whenever someone lashes out or attacks someone else for no reason they are responding out of their own woundedness. MONSTER CAVEAT: Explaining their attack in NO WAY excuses it.
  3. It's possible--just possible--that I don't have all the facts. Maybe, just maybe, that person has genuinely prayed and sought God's heart and is following the leading God gave her. Maybe, there's a calling on her life that I can't or haven't yet considered that would explain why she does what she does.
  4. Judging others' judgmentalism is...oh, what's the word?...judgmental! I can get haughty in a hurry when I've been wronged or someone close to me has been wronged.
  5. The task of judging others has already been assigned--and I didn't get the gig. God promises that He will set everything to rights. He will account for every injustice, from the Holocaust to my haughtiness and everything in between.
  6. Judging others wastes time that I will be held accountable for what I DO with it. A lot of people don't yet know Jesus and the extravagance of his love. What in the world am I doing wasting a nano-second on a job that's not mine? Lives are at stake.
Tomorrow, I'll post about judgmentalism's beautiful cousin that is separated by a very, very fine line: discernment.

Where do you see judgmentalism rear its hideously ugly, green head in your life?


Colt McCoy & the Cultivation of Character

When Colt McCoy was knocked out of the National Championship Game on the 6th play from scrimmage, he was eliminated from the most significant game of his career so far. No meter could measure his disappointment, frustration, anger, and loss.

Yet, his comments in the immediate aftermath of that experience reveal a character and faith that doesn't just happen. You can't create it on the spot in the moment. It has to be cultivated over years. Below is a clip from his post-game comments, but below that is an interview with Colt and his dad that we taped for Father's Day last year that provides amazing insight into how he was "prepared for the path" he's currently on.

Colt After-game Interview:

Brad & Colt McCoy LHC Interview:




IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE ATX as we shake out the holiday cobwebs and get back to a little bit of reality. 39 deg. and not a cloud in the sky. In pilot lingo, it's cold and clear, visibility unlimited.

What a great way to describe a new year! Unlimited visibility, unlimited possibility, unlimited hope. All of that unlimitedness feels really strong given the last four days of REV90. A few personal highlights:

*The creative, organizational, and relational genius of God. Reading through the first few chapters of Matthew, God's reminded me of all the history, families, and circumstances he orchestrated to prepare the world for the birth of Christ and the fulfillment of his plan for people. OVERWHELMING.
Reading, discussing, and discovering God as a family. Because of the holidays and some downtime, we've been able to read the daily readings as a family, discuss what we're reading and discover more of God through each other's insights and thoughts and what God is saying to us individually. HUGE blessing as a parent.
Some personal wins physically and morally as I've been reminded to be PURE physically. Individually, the wins are small, but I can already tell that collectively God is moving me more toward where he wants me and where he can use me more powerfully in every area of my life.

Let me know what you're doing and how God's using REV90 in your 2010 so far... Comment below.