church leadership

The Best Leadership Book You've Probably Never Read

The Best Leadership Book You've Probably Never Read

One of the best parts of getting a PhD in Leadership was being required to read widely on the subject. From time to time, I get asked what some of my favorite leadership books are. So, I thought I would take the time to answer that question here and accompany my answer with a fairly through review.

If stranded on a desert island and given only one book from which to teach leadership, I would choose a lesser known book called Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership by Lee Bolman and Terrance Deal.

Is the Building the Vision?

Is the Building the Vision?

How many new church plants start to decline after they acquire a permanent building? I recently received this question in an email.  Though I don't have the statistics, I do have stories. These are stories of churches that have slowly started their decline after completing building projects and others that have built and are still thriving today. But what has made the difference?

Why Unity is Important in the Church Body

Why Unity is Important in the Church Body

Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:1-3 that in order to walk worthy of our calling in Christ Jesus, members of the church body must work diligently to keep the spirit of peace which holds us together. But why? Why is the unity of the church such a major doctrinal concern? If it is “work,"—and especially if it is a work in need of “diligence,”—then there must be something larger at stake when unity in the church is failing. Why is unity important in the church body? Allow me to offer three biblical reasons from Ephesians 4.

Stewardship of Power

Stewardship of Power

Why is this discussion of a leader’s power so important? Recent issues have made this question extremely pressing for us. Power is possibly the greatest asset towards leadership. It provides leaders with the potential to do good or bring harm. Power allows leaders to build trust and thus gain the voluntary and legitimate permission of people to influence them, or power can be used in such a way that it undermines trust and legitimacy. Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “Nothing is more useful than power, nothing more frightful.”

Since this is true, the way a leader uses power is the truest test of his or her character. God gives power and position for the sake of his people, not for the privilege of the leader.

What the Church Must Do to Protect Its Most Vulnerable

What the Church Must Do to Protect Its Most Vulnerable

I just finished the 1st of The Houston Chronicle 3-part series on sexual abuse within Southern Baptist churches. Like other SBC pastors and church members, my response is one of grief and sadness for the victims and frustration for those who were never brought to justice. Yet, I also understand that while calls for a response and a denominational fix have been given for years, the nature of church autonomy—as addressed briefly in the article—puts the SBC in a unique position as compared to other denominations. Nevertheless, denominational polity is not something that will concern most readers of the story. For those who are victims of such abuse, it shouldn't. 

What Your Worship May Lack

What Your Worship May Lack

What if we did away with harmony in musical worship? Is it, or any other artistic expression, really necessary to the way we function as a church? Probably not, but most note beauty definitely adds something to the experience. Good art can help better articulate the gospel and move our affections towards God.

In the same vein, I wonder what other expressions of worship we may be missing. Are there some art forms we could use to help us better feel the depth of God's story or understand His person? How might leaders use those mediums to teach, to disciple, and to better explain the faith?

Work for Those Who Work for You

Work for Those Who Work for You

Leadership is a learned skill. Much of the learning takes place experientially, but books can also provide valuable learning. Since reading Steven B. Sample's The Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, "Work for Those Who Work For You" (Chapter 8)  has become a guiding leadership principle for me. More than 20 years after first encountering Sample’s work, I still have 2 green sticky notes marking pages in that chapter. On one, I wrote ”service” and on the other “access.” They are reminders that help me even today.

How to Have Better Meetings

How to Have Better Meetings

A few years ago, I counted how many hours I spent in church meetings then wished I hadn’t. Most of those meetings were boring, pointless, and took me away from my life in ways I later resented. Sure, it was nice to see people and get church business done. However, I’m not sure any of those meetings did much to accomplish the work of God’s kingdom.

On the other hand, I know groups who are having life-giving meetings leading to spiritual growth and changed lives. With a few intentional changes, we can make meetings a bright spot on the week instead of a chore.

Calling the Callers

Calling the Callers

For most of us who have been called into ministry, that calling wasn't as simple as hearing God's audible voice from heaven as we prayed. More often than not, God uses his people to call and clarify calling for the next generation of leaders. In spite of the barriers that exist, we should be the callers for the future of the church.


That's why we're incredibly excited for Houston Baptist University's opportunity this Feb to better understand what a calling is and the options available to those looking to enter ministry. It's going to be an excellent event for ministers and the next generation both.

Does Your False Self Preach a False Gospel?

Does Your False Self Preach a False Gospel?

We all have different masks—or false selves—we put on, versions of ourself we wish were true. These identities can range anywhere from helpful, to innocuous, to even detrimental to our spiritual health. Let’s take a moment to examine the dangerous false selves we present and how they might damage not only our walk with Christ but also our witness and community.