The Key Every Pastor Needs Before Leading Change


Jackson Pollock Painting Number 16

On November 12, 2013 a small painting, roughly 30″ by 22″, sold for $32,645,000.00. With a surface area of 684.1875 square inches, that works out to $47,713.52 per square inch. At that price, the average American household could have spent their entire year’s income to buy about one square inch.[1]

How did a piece of paper glued to Masonite, covered with random splotches of paint, fetch that fabulous sum? Because Painting Number 16 was the creation of Jackson Pollock, one of the 20th century’s most influential Abstract Expressionists. It is not the image per se that makes it valuable. It is practically priceless because of whose hand brought it into existence.

Our worth is not based upon our achievements, our abilities or even upon God’s call on our lives.

Our worth is intrinsic. It is essential by virtue of the fact that we are human beings. We are the product of the Artist’s creativity, skill and craftsmanship. We are the King of King’s image, placed on this earth to represent him.[2] We have been redeemed with the most priceless commodity of all – the precious blood of Christ.

This is just as true for pastors as it is for every other believer. Their worth rests on the fact that they are made in and are being conformed to the image of Christ, that they are objects  of the Father’s redeeming love, and that they are Christ’s gift to his Church. Pastors who grasp these truths firmly are better able to give firm but loving leadership in the midst of the doubt and conflict that will arise when they lead into the turbulent waters of change.

Leading change will test your core, pastor. Are you anchored on the Rock?


[1] John Seed, “What Makes A Jackson Pollock Painting Worth Millions?” The Huffington Post, February 2, 2014.
[2] Ancient emperors often commanded that statues of themselves be placed in remote parts of their realm to declare that who was the sovereign. These images represented the sovereign to such a degree that ruler and image were considered virtually interchangeable. In Imperial Rome it was a crime of high treason to disrespect the emperor by committing unseemly acts, real or imagined in the presence or proximity of an imperial image. So also were defacing, melting or otherwise desecrating an image of the prince that had been consecrated. Floyd Lear, Treason in Roman and Germanic Law: Collected Papers. University of Texas Press, 1965, 29.

Tending God’s Vineyard

Grape clusters

Not all of life’s important events happen on stormy seas.

Before moving to the Pacific Northwest my family lived on an alluvial plain of the Southern California high desert. I gave orchard tending a try. It wasn’t large—only 24 trees. Our little acre had more rocks than soil, so planting one bare-root fruit tree took two hours just to remove the boulders hiding out of sight beneath the surface.

Tending the orchard wasn’t all work, but I had to keep at it. Trimming, pruning, thinning, enlarging the water basins and keeping them clear. Weeds, despite their evil intent, didn’t have a chance in my orchard.

The hidden sources of church conflict

Pastor, can you pinpoint the hidden sources of conflict in your congregation?

If not, how will you manage them?


Thankfully, you’re not left to your own devices on this one! The Bible lays it out pretty clearly.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no differences among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.  (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)   I Corinthians 1:10-16

Reasons For Church Conflict: Differences Of Opinion

How do their lives fit God’s mission?


What do you tell the man who’s barely pays the family bills when he asks, “Pastor, how does this unrelenting financial pressure fit into what God’s doing in the world?”

Or how do you comfort the single working mother who worries about bullies picking on her youngest at school?

Pastor, do the members of your church know how their lives join God’s mission in the world?

For that matter do you?

If you’re unable to connect their hard work, their sacrifices and their suffering with something larger than themselves, how in the world are you going to motivate them to sustain energy and passion around serving God through the ministry of your church?

What keeps the simple tasks that keep the church doors open from being just one more task on the to-do lists of tired, anxious people?

Or maybe we’re called to nothing more than hanging on?

What’s a pastor do when God leads into a dark tunnel?

What do you do when serving God leads you into a long, dark tunnel?

You keep walking – and talking – even when something in your head screams “Run the other way!”

Most of us didn’t sign on for hazardous duty when we sensed the call. We’d heard of others walking through ministry minefields, but we figured our predecessors weren’t so skilled at leading people. Maybe they weren’t heedful to early warning signs of people’s discontent. No doubt they were simply not as bright as we, or in some other way flawed.

But soon enough in the fullness of timing—not our own—we reach the discovery that we, too, demonstrate our own deficiencies as spiritual and corporate directors. Well, once in a while at least!

That first realization seems a cruelty imposed upon us. Right then, in the aftermath of the drive-by shooting by church terrorists, when we’re most exposed it’s no small thing to receive the consolation of well-placed loyal friends.

Helped by those who’ve been blindsided

What churches can learn from Google about hospitality

Imagine you’re in charge of Google’s plan to bring fast Internet to America’s cities. You need a bit of cooperation from city governments.

If you put yourself in Google’s shoes, you’ll know how church visitors feel.

Obscure rules that hinder entry. Inefficient communications. Hard-to-get information. Unwillingness to share. Indifference.

Government Challenges for Google

Those are a few of the hurdles the company faces in bringing Google Fiber service into new markets. In “Want Fiber? Do more to get it, Google exec tells cities” GigOm Staff Writer Jeff John Roberts reports on the difficulty of working with city governments.

Roberts cites Milo Medin, VP of Access Services at Google Fiber, who identifies some of the challenges local governments pose.

  • Byzantine permission processes
  • Ineffective communications (a fetish for faxes!)
  • Inaccurate information
  • Blocked access to key telephone pole infrastructure

Church Challenges for Visitors

How did the world get to be such a mess?

How in the world did the world get to be such a mess?

If the Bible stories about God creating this perfect world inhabited by morally upright humans is true, what happened?


Well, the Bible’s story about the beginning of all things doesn’t end at Genesis 2. There’s another chapter that explains how we got into this mess.

And, fortunately, the whole story doesn’t end until we get to, well, the end. Revelation 20-22. That’s where we find out that one day it will all be put back together.

But let’s go back to the business about how things got messed up. That’s recorded for us in Genesis 3.


Before we jump into the dreadful story of how we got into this mess, let’s review.

This is the sixth in a series of articles written to help discouraged, defeated pastors get back on track. The idea behind this series of articles is to give pastors a framework for understanding, preaching and teaching the church what God is doing in the world. The purpose is to help a local church and the people in it understand how their private and corporate lives participate in God’s work.

Communicating God’s mission and the church’s vision is vital to any attempt to reverse decades of decline. The ability to understand and convey the mission and vision is one of the hallmark distinctions between those who revive dying churches and those who don’t. The first article in this series put it this way.

Because a firm grasp on mission and a clear sense of vision are hallmark distinctions between those who lead vigorous churches and those who don’t.

New research shows that there is a significant and measurable difference in “communicating the church’s vision with clarity and passion” between pastors.1 Those who pound the vision lead missionally effective churches. Those who don’t, don’t.

In our work as intentional interim pastors, trainers and coaches, my colleagues and I have seen the trouble that arises when pastors don’t pay continual attention to the mission and when they fail keep the congregation mindful of the vision.

The first five articles in this series show how the opening chapters of Genesis and the closing chapters of Revelation for a grand inclusio. The creation ordinances established in Genesis 1 and 2 are restored the consummation in Revelation 21 and 22.

Okay, with that behind us, let’s dive into the dreadful story about how this world go so messed up in the first place.

The Lord warns against disobedience

Cling to the mission if your church is about to crash

What does a discouraged pastor hang on to when he can’t pull the church out its death spiral?

Image 2-21-15, 4-34 PM.b8859b458ebc40c18f5b1a7f837265ea

You’ve tried everything.

Nothing’s worked.

The death spiral continues. Crashing and burn is inescapable if the church maintains the course.

You’re worn out.



You blame yourself even though you did it “by the book.”

It’s not too late

There’s still time to turn it around.

Even if you’ve already checked out in your head. There’s still time even if you’ve already started searching church job sites and polishing your resume.

It depends on how you answer a couple of questions.

  • Do you want to help believers understand this crazy world?
  • Do you want to give them something to hold when life spins wildly?
  • Would you love them to be passionate about Jesus, concerned for the lost, sacrificial in giving, and motivated to serve?
  • Are you willing to lay aside failures and false starts to do what works even if it isn’t rock star glamorous?

Then you’ve landed on the right page.

How do you get God’s attention?

What do you have to do to get God’s attention?

Not much, as it turns out.


The Bible tells us that God actually wants direct contact. He cherishes his time with us and wants more of it. As much as he can get!

The the creation stories we read that God wants lots of people. And he wants to be with them.

Let’s unpack those a bit more.

The Lord desires many in his Kingdom