4 ways to create a healthy culture

Culture is vital…I mean EXTREMELY vital to the success of your church or organization.  A great vision can be destroyed by an unhealthy culture.  I have heard it said like this, “Culture will eat vision for breakfast”.

So what is culture?  Culture is when what you say and what you do line up.  Culture is what people feel and experience in your church or organization. For example: I don’t want to just tell people I value them and that I love them,  I want people to feel and experience value and love.  That understanding goes beyond words, but is a set of values that are discovered through actions.

4 ways to create a healthy culture

1. You must clarify what you value.

A good way to do this is to ask yourself what do we want to be known for when people describe our church or organization?

Make a list of the things you want people to say about your organization.  This list is how you develop and clarify your values and when your values are lived out it creates your culture.

At Bloom it was our desire that we create a culture that “Every Person Matters”!  That every person that attends our services whether they’re new or not  feels welcomed and loved.  That we show they matter by honoring them every week by putting forth our best.  Every person can be a part of a Lifegroup and every person can go through the process and get plugged in and start serving.

2. Quit talking about it and start doing it.

The culture you desire will never exist in the future if you don’t model it in the present.  Culture starts with the leader.  When we identify what our values are we immediately start modeling those values.  Culture is not built upon excuses, but expectations.  What are your expectations for yourself, for your staff, and for your volunteers?

If our staff or volunteers are not living out our culture it is either because we as the leaders are not modeling it, we have not clarified exactly what we desire, or we are ignoring teachable moments to train and build our team.

3. Understand it takes time

Culture is not built in a matter of days, but a matter of months.  You have to be consistent with your values even when you think no one is getting it.  Because when we continue to model, clarify, and teach your values they will eventually get it and they will start to live out that culture!  It takes time and discipline to build lasting values.

4. Celebrate the wins

People will repeat what gets celebrated.  Encourage and celebrate your team.  Too many leaders are on the lookout to give correction and not enough are on the lookout to give affirmation. Give a public shoutout to someone who goes above and beyond, celebrate them on social media, send them a card, or give them a small gift. I promise you that when you celebrate wins the wins will multiply inside your organization and build a healthy culture.

Here is what you need to understand… Culture is the fuel for momentum and the heartbeat of your vision.  If you want to see your organization move forward and see your vision fulfilled you must build a healthy culture!

3 Questions to discover your Vision

MP3 Version at the bottom

I get asked by many pastors and leaders a lot the “HOW” question.  How are you growing? How do you get more people to attend your church? How do you grow your client base? How do you grow your organization?

With Leaders we are obsessed with the “HOW” because we want that next level, we want that growth, we want that expansion, but that CANNOT be our first question we ask!

The first question that has to be answered is the “WHY”.  Why do you do what you do? What is going to separate you from every other organization? What is your vision? What does this look like?

You cannot just have a blanket statement or a generic answer like “Well I am called to pastor a Church”. Ok that is great, but what does that Church look like? Having a generic answer without being able to answer the why is like someone saying they want to be a writer.  Thats great but what are you going to write about?  Are you going to write biographies, teaching materials, or romance novels?  Are you going to write books or blog posts?

You have to get more specific with your calling.  There is so much uniqueness with people and you have the ability to impact those people that will connect with your heart, but first you have to ask the “WHY” question because that’s your Vision.

3 Questions that help you discover your Vision

1. What am I just naturally good at?

Ask yourself what are you or what is your organization just naturally good at? Now this question is not answered by what you think you should be good at?  See many times we find ourselves playing the clone game where we look at other organizations and try to be carbon copies.  It doesn’t work that way.

So ask yourself what are we gifted at? Where are we excellent or heading that way?

2. What am I passionate about?

You have to enjoy what you are doing or you’re wasting what is already precious time in a very short life.  Do NOT pursue something because it is a good idea, but pursue something because you’re passionate about it!  Good ideas will never fulfill you and they will never give you the resolve to be successful.  John Maxwell said perfectly “Passion provides the fuel in a person’s life to keep them going!”.  If you are not passionate about something you will burn out and quit!

3. What will work?

Now I know you may think that is the million dollar answer, but you should know the demographic or market well enough that you can see where the needs are not currently being met.  If you don’t have that understanding you have not put in the due diligence to succeed because success takes a TON OF WORK. Understand the people you are trying to reach and see where their needs are not being met and thats how you reach a group of people who are not currently getting their needs mets.

When these three answers come together it is like magic.  That is the vision!

Like the Bible says “Without vision the people will perish” or as other translations say “run wild”.  If you do not answer the “WHY” your organization will run away from you and you will be left picking up the pieces.

You MUST answer the “WHY” before the “HOW”!

Building The Altar Moments In Life

Life is a fickle beast.  It has its ups and its downs.  It has its joys and it has its tears.  We are on the ride of our lives in this theme park filled with emotional roller coasters.  We humans are skin and bones that wraps an emotional soul.

Emotions can be a great thing as it forces us to look in the mirror and truly be honest.  No more fake facades and no half meaning smiles.  Just raw emotions.  It can cause us to love someone deeply, to feel immense pain for someone, to have a passion for life, or to realize that we are hurting.  Most importantly emotions if we allow them can draw us into a place of complete awe, adoration and to be completely captivated and dependent upon our Savior.

The sad thing is that I see so many people become ashamed of their emotional state.  People who think that unless they are perfect they are considered a weak believer or even in sin.  However I feel like if we can identify our emotions it can bring us the greatest healing, hope, and strength.  David was the greatest example of that in the book of Psalms in one instance he would be crying out how the world was crashing all around him, but towards the end of those passages he would conclude that though he is weak his God is strong and will rescue him.  I heard a quote once that said “it’s ok to sit on the pity pot just don’t stay there long enough to get a ring around your butt!”

There is nothing wrong with identifying and feeling our emotions.  Where that becomes dangerous is when we stay in our emotions and don’t look to our God for strength.

So how do you find strength in God? YOU REMEMBER!

6 We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” – JOSHUA 4:6-7

I love these verses! God does a great miracle and Joshua tells them to build a memorial an altar.  He says when the generations of people who come after us see this memorial they will REMEMBER the great miracle our God did today.  When they may be filled with doubt or stress may the remember a time when God rescued His people.  When they are filled with an overwhelming emotion may they remember when God held back the overwhelming waters of the Jordan river and allowed us to walk into the promise land. May they REMEMBER!

We must build the altar moments in our lives.  It’s those moments that make us realize exactly what Paul meant when he said “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” It is not my strength that gives me peace it is the strength of my saviour and it is when I can remember all the times he has already been faithful in my life.

Build the altar moments and REMEMBER!

Do Kings really do that?

So I am reading in 1 Samuel this week and I’m reading in chapter 10 where Samuel anoints Saul King of Israel.  Later in that chapter Samuel calls all Israel together and proclaims that Saul will be their King.  So now the people of Israel get what they have been crying to God for and that is a King just like everybody else.

So all is good right, but then I start reading in chapter 11 and something just stands out to me.  At the beginning of chapter 11 the King of Ammon has marched his armies to a town called Jabesh-Gilead to over take it and the messengers of Jabesh run to the town where Saul is staying to tell him what is going on. This is what stood out to me verse 5 says…

5 Saul had been plowing a field with his oxen, and when he returned to town, he asked, “What’s the matter? Why is everyone crying?” So they told him about the message from Jabesh.

Saul had been plowing in a field? What!?!  When was the last time you read a story about a King plowing in a field?  The story gets even better the bible says that the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul and rallied up an army together and they completely destroyed the Ammonite army.  Then AFTER the victory Samuel said,

14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us all go to Gilgal to renew the kingdom.” 15 So they all went to Gilgal, and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they made Saul king. Then they offered peace offerings to the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites were filled with joy.

Even though Saul had already been anointed King and he was already proclaimed King the people didn’t recognize that he was their King. It wasn’t until AFTER Saul won that great battle and AFTER the people saw that he was willing to fight and die for them that they recognized him as their king.

So many times we receive a calling and anointing from God, but we expect to walk right into that calling without the hard work of plowing the fields, without the pain of battle, and without showing people that our motives are sincere. Reaching our dreams can be a strenuous process, but it is in the midst of our process that we become the reflection of Jesus. A that is when we give God all the glory through the fulfillment of our dreams.

So don’t skip the fields and don’t miss the battle, because that’s where you become genuine.

Go Home & Trust Me

46 As he traveled through Galilee, he came to Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. There was a government official in nearby Capernaum whose son was very sick.47 When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal his son, who was about to die. 48 Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” 49 The official pleaded, “Lord, please come now before my little boy dies.” 50 Then Jesus told him, “Go back home. Your son will live!”And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.

“Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?” I think Jesus asks that same question to many people today.

Usually our answer is “Yes Jesus I believe you” but… first I need to see the miracles to truly believe you.

That’s not faith!  That’s not trust!  How would any of your relationships thrive in life if you constantly second guessed them and had no trust or faith in them.  That is exactly the way we treat God.  We tell God he is a liar by never truly embracing and believing His promises for our lives. God desire to show you His miracles and wonders, but He cannot show you favor until you completely trust His promises.

“And the man believed what Jesus said and started home.” The man left without any miracles taking place and still he believed. Jesus never personally went to his home or laid a hand on his son and the man still believed in the words Jesus spoke to him.

Go home and trust in the promises of God and you will see that miracles are fueled by a faith that believes in the promises of God even before they are fulfilled.  God will not be made a liar so take comfort in that.

Ruins or Restoration

But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” -Nehemiah 2:17 NLT

When I read the story of Nehemiah I always wonder why it took someone from the outside to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Someone that heard the news of Jerusalem from someone else. Nehemiah didn’t even see the ruins with his own eyes when he headed out on this journey. The people that were living in Jerusalem had been living in that rubble and in their instability for years and they did nothing.

Were they ok with destruction and the lack of defense?
Did they not think it was an issue?
Did they think it was someone else’s job?
Did they get used to the destruction?
Was it a normal way of life?

The same problem lies in the way we interact in our communities today. People go through life feeling alone, unloved, hurting, depressed, miserable, feeling like mistakes or accidents. They live life in ruins as they crumbled to the pressures of life and we ignore their broken hearts. We have been so used to see pain that we either ignore it, are calloused to it, or we think it is someone else’s job. We have been given an even greater gift than Nehemiah received from his king. We have been given the gift of life that comes from Jesus. Our salvation is not something to be hoarded but shared!

Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.
They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work. -Nehemiah 2:18 NLT

Don’t Be An “if” Person

14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

Yesterday I heard someone talking about the “if” in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and it really got me thinking and praying about it.  Why did God say “if” my people?  Does he think we will not humble ourselves and pray? Does he think we won’t make the time or we are not really praying with meaning?  Does he think that we will not have enough faith or that prayer is just some quick routine we just do. That “if” really bothers me because I don’t ever want to get caught in the “if” crowd.

I want to pray and fast so passionately and fervently that God must listen.  I want to bang on heavens door with so much expectation that God has to use me.  I want God to know that every part of me is His to be used for His will and purpose and I want Him to know that I trust every promise that is found in the Scriptures.

 Matthew 7:7 7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 21:21  21 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

God will not be made a liar.  Pray the promises of God with expectation and watch the hand of God move in your life.

Eternal Purpose

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” -Mark 10:20-21

This thought engulfed my prayers when planting BLOOM “It’s time to quit wandering and get connected to our eternal purpose”

How am I going to eternally impact the Kingdom of God? I can follow all the commands and be the perfect Sunday Christian, but if it stops there I am missing the mark. Obeying the commands of God are vital, but there has to be more.  Jesus was calling the rich young ruler to abandon his personal plans for his life and pick up the ideas and dreams of God for his life.  The only way we can eternally impact the Kingdom of God is to connect with the will and purpose of God for our lives.  The scripture is not saying sell everything and live in poverty.  Its saying that you must completely devote yourself to the call of God and seek His will above all else.  When we are living in the will of God we are giving God the glory he deserves because we are saying our greatest desire is please Him.

Ask God to show you His plans for your life and to reveal the things in your heart that are taken priority of over Him.

Overwhelming Vision!

 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Ephesians 3:12

This scriptures speaks so much power and truth into our lives.  Yes because of what Christ has done for us we are able to have a restored relationship with God, but if we do not have faith in Jesus that we can step boldly into Gods presence then we will sell our self short.

I read a quote by Steven Furtick that has really been running through my head he said “The size of your vision isnt determined by who God is it will be determined by who you believe God is- and whether you have the courage to respond accordingly”

God is God and nothing we can say or do will change how glorious he is, but God will not force himself on you.  He will not force his dreams, his plans, and his will on your life.  He will stir your spirit, but you have have to boldly through faith walk into the presence of God and take hold of the vision he has for you.

Be overwhelmed by the plans God has for you, but don’t stop there.  Walk in your dreams and unlock your God given destiny!

Letter To Myself. Everything Is Filler

Hey Mike,

Your priority should not be running a company, organization, or running a church.  It is not budgets, reports, or events.

That stuff is all filler.  Your priority should be people!

You need to see people.  You need to know their stories.  You need to see their struggles, pains, & insecurities. You need to know their dreams, desires, and how they see God. Don’t get so busy in your life that you ignore the lives of everyone around you.  Nothing matters if you are not building meaningful relationships with people.

Everything else is filler.

There is people that do not feel loved, have no peace, that are miserable, and depressed.  There are people who feel all alone, feel like nobody cares, and feel like accidents.  Those people live in your neighborhood, pass you in the aisles at the grocery store, make your coffee, and go to your church.  Don’t just see them as a face in the crowd or butts in the seats.  See them for who they are which is not the way they feel about themselves, but the way God feels about them.  God has carved greatness in their souls and when He formed them in their mothers womb He created them with a specific purpose.  They are a part of Gods family and He loves them with and never ending love.  We are supposed to love like that because He has loved us and we are supposed to see people the way He sees them because we are to bear His image.

It is about the people.  Everything else is filler.