Saturday, January 31, 2009

E Myth (part 6)

In chapter fourteen of Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited I am reminded of a sad reality that I have seen played out in the church many times over in the last twenty eight years of ministry. In this chapter Gerber describes the organizational mistakes common to business. He says, “Most companies organize around personalities rather than around function and vision. That is, they organize around dominant people rather than accountabilities or responsibilities” (167). Unfortunately, many churches of various sizes and denominations are personality driven and consequently fail for the same reason.

The leader of a personality driven church is often times an emotionally immature person and can be either a pastor or lay person. In the public arena they present a strong and confident persona but at home and in the inner recesses of the church their insecurity and brokenness can destroy intimacy of relationship, productivity of staff, innovation of laity, and stifle the emotional expression of attendees. At times the main focus of the church can be reduced (at least at a subconscious level) to making the leader feel good about him/her self and propping them up emotionally.

Often in a dysfunctional church systems are developed to preserve control and protect the personality at the top. As time passes the system fails however because healthy people will not play by the rules of the emotionally immature. They will feel, think, talk and act for themselves (The three rules in a dysfunctional family system are "don’t ask, don’t feel and don’t tell and you will be safe").

The church that is organized under a dominant personality is known for splitting apart with time. Eventually the dysfunctional system gives way to healthy processes. At some point the health of the church will not permit the dominant personality to squelch freedom of expression and will see through the insatiable need of leaders to control people and amass facility and the consequent debt just to support the emotional needs and insecurities of key leaders. Eventually it all comes to a grinding halt.

When a church that is built on a dominant personality splits it is generally catastrophic in nature for several reasons. One, emotionally immature leaders seldom know how to finish well. So they will often use their influence to spin the facts, raise unhealthy suspicion among the flock, and accuse others of coveting control of what they have built. When paranoia sets in the facts are usually altered to favor their side of the story and to polarize people in their direction.

Unfortunately many people will blindly follow a dominant personality into battle. This is a second common reason why many splits of this kind are catastrophic in nature. Like sheep following their shepherd, some church people will pursue the will of their leader even to a fault. They will hear only half the story, believe the worst in others, and accusing those who disagree with their opinion as being sinners. For these reasons and others not mentioned they will refuse the ministry of reconciliation and adopt a "my way or the highway” mentality.

"It’s my way or the highway!" This mindset is a third reason why church splits steeped in a dominant personality is often times catastrophic in nature to the local church. Instead of people rising above self interest many will simply dig in their proverbial heals, refuse to examine self, or to rally around the cause of Christ, honor membership commitments and covenants and simply choose to leave the fold and try to take as many others with them as they possibly can. We often refer to this behavior in the field of conflict management as a “church divorce.”

In a church divorce, some people break their membership covenant, choose not to honor their word and in an act of self interest leave the church. In doing so they abandon those whom they once said they would stand shoulder to shoulder with, and fail to demonstrate character that rises to a cause that is greater than self interest and just simply pull up stakes and leave. In so doing the testimony of the church is damaged and God’s reputation is besmirched in eyes of many. Likened unto an act of betrayal in marriage, many will go to another location to do their own thing, often times with their dominate personality, and leave others to pick of the pieces, carry the mortgage, and salvage the dream.

The current administrative structure of Willoughby Hills Friends Church does not lend itself to a dominant personality at the top. Even though our leaders have different titles, roles and responsibilities our structure is collegial in nature with mutual accountability to one another. Whether it is setting vision or making difficult decisions, it is a team effort on our part. Why? Because that is what healthy people and churches do!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 30, 2009

E Myth (part 5)

Interesting. As I was reading through The E-Myth Revisited today I found myself wrestling with the difference between a commodity and a product. Gerber states, that “the product is never the commodity. The commodity is actually the thing the customer walks out with in his hand. The product is what your customer feels as he walks out of your business” (153-154). Could the same hold true for the church as well?

What is our product at Willoughby Hills Friends Church? Do we provide a positive emotional experience? What feeling will new attendees walk away with? Hope? Peace of mind? Order? Power? Love? Perception often times becomes reality and emotion plays a big role in the matrix of perception.

As the world becomes more complex and the commodities more varied, the feelings we want become more urgent, less rational, and more conscious. How your business anticipates those feelings and satisfies them is your business product (155). In the business arena the art and science of identifying the emotional or perceived needs of customers is known as psychographics. If the product of the church is to provide a rich emotional experience for attendees then the utilization of psychographics is imperative.

In the church leaders have a tendency to just look at the demographics of an area and discern if it will support the needs of the church. They wonder, “Are there enough people living in our geographic sphere of adequate means that we can attract a percentage of to support our business plan? What is their age? Are they young couples raising families that we can attract to fill up our class rooms and use our gymnasium? What is their income level? Is this a community that will attract other professionals and people of means to support our financial needs and pay down our church debt or fund our budget?”

Demographics are often times employed for selfish reasons in the church. Either consciously or not, what church leaders are looking for though demographic studies are various ways the community can service the church’s needs. However, if the product of the church is “positive emotional experience” then demographics are for the purpose of developing psychographics first and foremost.

In the future all of the ministries at Willoughby Hills Friends Church will answer the following questions: What is the “product” we intend to offer to the people who we will service through this outreach ministry or class we offer? What is the psychographics of those who we will attract to our worship service and how can we best meet their felt need? What key things can we build in to every activity, every encounter with people to assure a positive emotional experience?

The quality of the commodity we offer will not wane and will continue to be relevant to the specific needs of people today. However, a richer emotional, experiential factor will be developed church wide. My goal for Willoughby Hills Friends Church is to maintain a consistent level of excellence in all we do!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

E Myth (part 4)

As I continue to reflect on the words from Gerber’s book The E Myth Revisited, I am reminded of the value of looking at the church from time to time as a business. Often in my planning and administration I need to view Willoughby Hills Friends Church as a product, sitting on a shelf and competing for the customer’s attention against the whole shelf of competing businesses. There are many other churches trying to attract people. People have needs and are shopping for value. As the Administrator I need to be asking, “Where is the opportunity? What are the needs of my customers?”

One key idea I was taught in business classes is not to start with a picture of the business to be created but of the customer for whom the business is to be created. Without a clear, contemporary, relevant picture of the customer, no business can succeed. Gerber reminds his readers that the customer is a continuing parade of changing wants begging to be satisfied. All the successful entrepreneur has to do is to find out what those wants are and what they will be in the future (74).

For Willoughby Hills Friends to be the church people reach for I must make sure she works better than all the rest. I must create a systems dependent organization that is not people or personality dependent in the future. To develop a “Turn Key Operation” (94) that is need based, that can employ all of our constituents, functions systematically with great consistency, and is uniform (performed in Christ’s name and labored in love through the fruit of the Holy Spirit). Is that not the raison d’etre (92) of the church?

I need to develop a ministry system/model that people can bring to life. The system becomes the tool people then use to meet the needs of others with greater efficiency and will differentiate self from other churches. It is the job of leadership to develop the tools and to teach our attendees to use them. Our attendees need to use the tools and recommend improvements based upon their experience. The future success of the church is not in the employment of highly skilled and educated professionals but in well trained and highly skilled parishioners.

Gerber quotes Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave, “most people surveying the world around them today see only chaos. They suffer a sense of personal powerlessness and pointlessness. People need life structure. A life lacking in comprehensive structure is an aimless wreck and breeds breakdown. Structure provides the relatively fixed points of reference people need today” (103). At Willoughby Hills Friends we need to provide structure for people. We need to look orderly and respond systematically so people think we know what we are doing, can trust the results delivered and assure them they can trust their future with us. We can do it and we must do it for the glory of God and the well being of our fellow man.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

E Myth (part 3)

As I continue to read through The E Myth Revisited I am reminded of how important it is to ask the right questions in church leadership. Questions like: “Where do we wish to be as a local body of Christ followers?” “When do we wish to be there?” “What resources will we need to get there – money, people, etc.?” “What educational processes will be required? What leadership will need to be in place to make it happen?” These are all good questions and should be considered when developing a growth matrix for the local church.

However, the question I think many leaders still need to wrestle with first is: “What does a great church look like?” Then discussion can return to the present with the intention of changing it to match the vision. The Ministry Performa of Willoughby Hills Friends Church is:

Vision – “To love Jesus Christ and other people unconditionally”

Mission – “To reach up, in, out and over.” To reach up in worship; In with the Holy Spirit for Christ likeness; Out to our world in service and evangelism; Over to each other for love and support.

Objectives – To educate, encourage, equip, evangelize and empower people so they may experience to best, most fulfilling life possible.

Give me your feedback. Is this a clear vision for the future? Is it SMART. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

EMyth (part 2)

As I continue to read The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber I sense a level of frustration and stimulation. I am frustrated in the sense the material is nothing more than basic business “101.” Any community college would present the same material and concepts as Gerber in an attempt to arouse the student’s awareness to systems thinking and principles. I guess I was hoping for more.

On the other hand I find myself stimulated by the Holy Spirit as a read this week. Though many of Gerber’s points are not new to me God has enabled me to reflect on some areas in my life and church where healthy change can occur and the system of operation tweaked some. Let me share a few of my ideas.

One, the church is nothing more than a distinct reflection of those who lead and attend. In many ways the church assumes the identity of the individual. If the leaders are sloppy and disorganized then so goes the church. If attendees are greedy and pursuing just their own interests then the church will never reflect the image of Christ or achieve the power of His influence. I must change for growth to occur and God has helped me identify some key areas where I can improve for greater personal effectiveness and for the overall good of the local institution I love.

Two, God is reminding me not to get caught up in the technical and managerial duties of my job and fail to dream. In a church of 1200 attendees it is easy for leaders to get caught up in the mechanics of the organization. Most pastors entered their profession to love people and influence the world for Christ and yet many feel unfulfilled and discouraged and their dream has all but disappeared. The exhilaration has turned into exhaustion and the fun has become despair. They have a terrible sense of loss. The loss of their dream, the special relationship they once had with their work and calling. Sometimes even the loss of purpose, family, and self.

To be a change agent at Willoughby Hills Friends Church I must continue to dream big for the glory of God. While performing the mechanics of my job I must find ways to turn the trivial and mundane into an exceptional opportunity for self and others. I must allow my God given dream to be the energy behind my activity. I must empower the people around me and enlist more to dream big with me.

I need to create systems within the church that will bring our dreams into the present and have them working toward an end result. Create systems that will transcend me as an employee and the personal limitations I present. Ones that are self perpetuating through the dreams of people and yet are well thought out and articulate. My goal is to develop a mature church where things are not left up to chance but where there is vision against which the present is shaped.

Those are my thoughts for today. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, January 26, 2009

E Myth

While on vacation this week I plan to read two books. One is about business and the other on philosophy. I have enjoyed The E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. The focus of his work is the development of an entrepreneurial perspective. I hope to apply these principles to my day job. Our success in implementing the Kingdom mandate at Willoughby Hills Friends Church is to engage the genus of our attendees and empower and release them for service. We serve a God of infinite possibilities!

Some of the quotes used by Gerber are:
“To live through an impossible situation you don’t need the reflexes of a Grand Prix driver, the muscles of Hercules or the mind of Einstein. You simply need to know what to do.” – Anthony Greenbank

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is the warrior takes everything as a challenge while the ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” – Don Juan in the Tales of Power

We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, January 23, 2009


I started vacation today. Even though I enjoy my day job I have come to see the benefit of getting away for a time of refreshing. My greatest joy is spending quality time with my wife. She is the love of my life. Sometimes my heart aches when I am away from her. My God has been so gracious to me!

What are your greatest blessings in life?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


My friend Marie must have way to much free time on her hands because she constantly surfs the Net and sends out these cute little comics. I love them and I hope you get a chuckle too! This one reminds me of Christ's power to change people's lives.
You have probably heard the expression, "can a leper change its spots?" used in reference to people changing their ways. Well, when a relationship with Jesus Christ is factored into the
equasion the answer is "yes." Genuine change can occur in people's lives.
One of my favorite chapters from the Bible is Leviticus 14 describing the cleaning of the lepers. "And the priest shall go out to the leper camp (v. 3) ... and he shall sprinkle blood on them seven times and they shall be cleaned frpom leprosy" (v. 7). In the Old Testament leprosy is symbolic of sin. The effect of sin on human life is separation from God and the absence of abundant life. Jesus Christ came to earth, "to our camp," and sprinkled His own blood from the cross of Calvary, to reconnect us to God and the life He originally planned for us all.
Like the Old Testmant priest, our Great High Priest, Jesus the Christ, sprinkled us with His own blood seven times. He bled from His mind in the Garden (Luke 22:44), face (Isaiah 50:6), back (Isaiah 53:3; 2 Corinthians 11:23-24; 1 Peter 2:24), head (Matthew 27:29), hands, feet (Matthew 27:35) and side (John 19:34). Today total transformation of life is available to all who will embrace Christ by faith as the only One who can reconcile our lost relationship with our Creator and surrender control of self to Him through the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
What say you? Are you tomented emotionally? Looking for peace and lasting joy? Jesus bled from His mind so your emotions could be whole. Feel ugly and unacceptable to God and others because of your past? Christ's face became marred so your face could be beautiful in the sight of God and self.
Need a healing? Jesus received 39 lashes on His back for you could be healed. One stripe for every category of sickness and disease known to mankind. Will you extend your life and faith to Him today and believe Him for your healing?
Feel as if your life is cursed? Just cannot seem to get ahead in life? When they placed the crown of thorns upon His brow Christ bore your curse. Is there any reason why you should continue to live and feel such condemnation when Christ paid the ultimate price for you?
As you examine your life today do you only see the sum total of your failures? Have your hands and feet lead you astray? Got you in trouble? Jesus bled from His hands and feet on the cross so your's could serve God and others.
Do you want a new life? An exteme makeover that pays eternal dividends? Look to the blood and water that flowed from the side of Christ when the soldiers pierced His side with a spear. When the water breaks the baby is born. Accept the saving work of Jesus, be born anew, and let His power change your spots!
Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

God's Love

Thanks Marie for the chuckle. This picture reminds me of the love of God. Evangelical Friends believe that His love is "perfect." The word perfect comes from the Greek word "telos" meaning "intended purpose." God has fashioned His love to fit the uniqueness of our lives.

No matter who you are, no matter what you have done, God's love covers it all. "God's love covers a multitude of sin" (1 Peter 4:8). I give God praise today because He meets all of my needs through His glorious richest in Christ Jesus!

What does God's love and provision mean to you?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Coffee Break

Well my day is mostly over and what a challenge it has been! With my administrative responsibilites I find less time to counsel with people. Now I generally schedule one day each week for counseling and pack my calendar tight. Today is that day.

I am thinking of simplifying my counseling strategy some. I found this guy's technique to be simple, right to the point, and relatively inexpensive. However, I am not quit sure it will work for me just yet. Watch this short clip and tell me what you think?

Have a great evening and thanks for stopping by!


My Day Job

My job description at Willoughby Hills Friends Church includes the administration of the church and staff. Without a plan I will not be effective. This is my philosophy of church administration.

Church administration is handled in two ways. The first involves information gathering, decision making and maintaining the mechanics of the organization. These processes must be relevant to the complexities of the church, measurable and time bound. The results produced through such processes of administration must then be compiled and presented in a fashion appropriate for action to ensue. Good decisions are generally made when these principles are applied and not left to the whim, will or emotion of individual(s).

The same would be true in measuring the effectiveness of the organization. Emotion can be deceiving at times. The state of the church or her effectiveness in completing stated objectives cannot be allocated to “I feel” statements but must consider the facts presented through the use of consistent processes such as those outlined above.

Secondly, administrating a church involves seeing the church as an emotional, relational, spiritual system through which decisions are made utilizing effective communication. Thus, the proper administration of the church requires healthy communication at appropriate levels within the organization. Full disclosure of opinion and emotion must be shared by leaders as they collectively evaluate the data in conjunction with prayer and the consensus of the Holy Spirit’s leading.

The unique design of the church does not permit decisions to be made in a vacuum. Rather it requires the application of a method by which information is evaluated using the dynamics of communication. It is the responsibility of the Executive Pastor to oversee the development, function, and effectiveness of the church’s processes and to participate in the dynamic procedures of the church through open dialog and spiritual application.

What are your thoughts on the mechanics of the church and what could pastors do to better manage the organization in your opinion?

Thanks for stopping by today and when you get a moment please visit my church's website. Its cool!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Reason for Existence

My life verse comes from the writings of King Solomon. He says, "Now hear the conclusion to the whole matter... Reverence God and keep His commandments. For this is the whole duty of man" (Ecc. 12:13). What say you? What is the reason for your existence? Before you go, please take a moment to listen to this special song:

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Saturday, January 17, 2009


I love mud! It can really be a lot of fun at times. I really enjoy stripping the roof and doors off of my Wrangler and mud'n in the snow or rain. NICE!

Mud. A study of mud in the Bible reminds me of several important things about my life. One, it reminds me how important it is for me to have friends in my life. I shared this passage from the sacred literature in a previous post but it bears repeating. Jeremiah 38:6, 22 says, "So they took Jeremiah and put him into a well that had no water in it, only mud and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. And the women came and said to Jeremiah, where are your trusted friends, they have deserted you, and your feet are stuck in the mud." I would be stuck in the mud emotionally, professionally, relationally and spiritually if I did not have people close to me.

Two, mud reminds me of God's provision. Psalm 40:2, "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, and He set my feet on the rock and gave me a firm place to stand." Apart from a personal relationship I would be not enjoy the benefit of abundant life today. He made provision for my sin.

Three, mud reminds me also of God's protection in my life. Exodus 14:25, "God jammed up the wheels of the Egyptian chariots so they could not pursue the Israelites across the Red Sea." Romans states that "the God of peace will crush Satan under my feet." When the forces of darkness seek my demise I can trust in my Heavenly Father's love to see me through.

Four, mud reminds me of the love of Jesus. In John 9, Jesus met a man who was born blind. He said (v. 5), I am the light of the world. Having said this (6), He spit on the ground, made some mud, and put it on the man's eyes. The man washed and he could see(11). This gives new meaning to the expression, "here's mud in your eye," doesn't it? Jesus meets me at my point of brokenness and speaks peace and healing. Oh, how I need His mud in my life!

Finally, mud reminds me how wasted my life would be without Jesus. 2 Peter 2:22 says, "for those who do not follow Jesus the proverb is true, a dog returns to its vomit and a pig that is washed goes back to wallowing in the mud." I love the mud of Jesus in my life and I thank Him for His cleansing power too! Because of Him my life has purpose, meaning, and all of the above (except the wallowing pig thing)! What say you?

Thanks for stopping by and before you go check out this mud run...

o llllll o

Friday, January 16, 2009

I have friends

Last night I had dinner with four friends. I love these guys. This passage from Jeremiah reminds me of the need for friends. "So they took Jeremiah and put him in a well that had no water in it, only mud and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. And the women came and said to Jeremiah, where are your trusted friends, they have deserted you, and your feet are stuck in the mud."
Outside of relationship I would be "stuck in the mud" emotionally and spiritually. What say you? How have others moved you from "stuck" to "unstuck?" Before you go check out this short video...