Tuesday, January 2, 2018

He must increase, I must decrease

John the Baptist enjoyed a significant ministry, but he knew the primary purpose of his ministry was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.  While John was baptizing, Jesus approached him and requested baptism.  Though John protested initially, he eventually relented and baptized Jesus.

Commenting on the event later John said, “He, that is Jesus, must increase, I must decrease.”

There comes a time in every leader’s life when it is time to step aside and make way for his successor.  Moses stepped aside and made way for Joshua.  The prophet Elijah stepped aside and made way for Elisha.  Every four years we hold an election in which we choose a new president and the former president must step aside and make way for his successor.  That time has now come for me.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Choosing to work together

The African-American Pastor's Fellowship recognized me at their annual banquet and invited me to share a few thoughts with them.  I thought I'd share with you the text of my address to them because it highlights what I believe is the most critical issue facing UBA  and every association of churches today.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A Leader Says Thanks

A good leader never forgets to thank those who make it possible to do the work for which he or she is responsible.  That’s what I’ve been doing for the last few days.  I’ve personally written over one hundred notes and letters to folks who contributed to UBA’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

As of today (October 13, 2017) UBA has received $119,450.83 in cash and nearly $40,000 in gift cards.  Most of the funds and and gift cards have already been distributed to churches, pastors and families affected by the storm.  Each week, as more comes in, we distribute it to those in need.

Friday, September 8, 2017

You Can't Fake Showing Up

Chances are you’ve never heard of Shannon Townsend.  He’s a member of The Fellowship, a UBA congregation where Jerry Edmonson is the pastor.  Shannon was the focus of a CNN story in the wee hours of the morning, Friday, September 1.  You can read the story here.  Take note of the quote at the end of the story:

“You can fake that you care.  You cannot fake showing up.”

Shannon Townsend showed up.  Shannon is illustrative of so many UBA churches that have been showing up in a big way during Hurricane Harvey.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The revitalization equation

In his book Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying Churches Mark Clifton asks this disruptive question: ”What about a dying church brings glory to God?”
The answer? Nothing! Yet more than half of the churches across the US are plateaued or declining. Consider this church—a composite of many I’ve talked with through the years. The church is without a pastor. They have been in decline for over twenty years. Their building is old; it’s all the members can do to pay the utilities each month. The demographic makeup of the community has changed. Though the folks who attend worship still live in the community, they don’t look like most of the folks they see in the neighborhood supermarket each week. They know they need to grow or they won’t survive. So they call and ask for help finding a pastor, because they believe if they just find the right pastor they’ll start to grow again. 
When I meet with them I share with them my revitalization equation: a skilled pastor + a willing congregation = the possibility of revitalization. While they think all they need is the right pastor, I remind them that the other part of the equation is just, perhaps even more critical. 
What is a willing congregation? What must they be willing to do?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Questioning your church

Thom Rainer receives thousands of questions from pastors and church leaders each year.  A few days ago he released a list of the top ten questions pastors ask him.  Topping the list was this question:   Where do I begin to lead my church toward revitalization? 

With 70%-80% of congregations nationwide either plateaued or declining it’s no wonder churches would be concerned about revitalization.  (Interestingly, the UBA video on “The Hard Work of Church Revitalization” is one of the most watched videos on our website.)

How can you know if your church is plateaued or declining?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Transitioning to the next generation of leaders

Through the years I've had to make many hard decisions as the executive director of UBA, but none has been harder than the one I've just made.