Willie George on Planting Natural Seeds for the Supernatural

Willie George at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012, Willie George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) discussed our responsibility to move and plant seeds before something supernatural happens.

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Psalm 8:4-6
4  what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[a] and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,

When God created the world, He gave Adam dominion. But when Adam sinned, he lost dominion. Scripture teaches us that when Jesus came, He stepped into dominion. Now under the new covenant we once again operate in dominion.

Growth is not your domain. Man was never called to grow anything. God is the one that grows things. 1 Corinthians 3:6 says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

Genesis 2 says that Adam had responsibilities. It was God who put all the plants and other things into the Garden of Eden. The only tool that God put into the hand of Adam was the planting of seeds.

God involves us in this amazing process of planting and growing. Where we get into trouble when managing a church is we pray for something that God will do things that is our responsibility. You are the one that has to exercise authority and dominion.

God very clearly sets down the pattern that He does what He can but you do what you can do. God wants you to use something that is in your hand, something that you are familiar with. You have to start somewhere. Everything starts small. You have to make the most of what you’ve got.

In 2 Kings 4, the widow did not have anything for Elisha but a pot of oil. Elisha still made her use what she had. When you come to a place of need, you may not have what you need, but you often have a seed.

I never had any money to do anything God told me to do when He told me to do it.
– Lester Summerall

When we want to extend our ministries, we begin to look for a miracle. But it is natural first then the supernatural. God is not looking for a move of God; God is looking for a move of man. The widow in 2 Kings 4 had to move first before God moved. God’s desire is to blend the natural and the supernatural.

We get this notion that somehow the supernatural comes rolling in, but you have to make room for it first. God is the author of efficiency.

We are in a partnership. God could just as easily have turned air into wine as He did water into wine, but He said get the water jugs. If you are waiting for God to move in the checkers game, He may have already moved, and it is your turn (and God won’t cheat and go twice). You need to do your part and make room for increase before it comes.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Ed Young Jr on 18 Lessons in 20 Years

Ed Young Jr at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012, Ed Young Jr of Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX) discussed 18 leadership lessons he has learned from 20 years as a pastor.

Whether you are a big church or small church, I (Ed) believe that these principles are transferable. Things are things I have come to know through observation, failure, and success.

As a leader, I believe that we should have healthy fear in our lives.

  1. A leader should fear God.
  2. A leader should create fear in others.

18 Leadership Shots from Gospel Bill’s Saloon

  1. Draft impact players.
    One of the most important skills as a leader is to have discernment. Draft people who are influencers. Draft yes men and women (i.e., people who are yielded and encouragers). Look at the spouse of your impact players. You better go spouse hunting because they are one. How do these people spell relational relief. Check out Facebook. Check references.
  2. Develop double vision.
    If you have a church of 20 people, pastor like it is 40. If you have 200 people, pastor like it is 400.
  3. Change.
    Change > Conflict > Growth = the spin cycle of success. If you aren’t careful as a leader, you can get as a contemporary church become as predictable as a traditional church.
  4. Build a big shallow end in your church.
    You better have a place where you can rapidly plug in new attendees and new Christ-followers. The church grows from the outside-in. Start reaching people, and make a big place for them.
  5. Put on your shades.
    The vision should be so bright, so hot that people have to wear shades. Make people feel and know the vision of your church. Don’t assume that people know the vision. Talk about the vision. People don’t give to need; they give to vision.
  6. Las Vegas
    Las Vegas has nothing to say, but they know how to say it. We have everything to say but don’t know how to say it. Most of us do a horrible job in promoting. We should be the best promoters in the world.
  7. Consult other leaders before you consult the consultant.
    Talk to people ho are in the game and not the consultants.
  8. Pay now or pay later.
    You have to pay your people well. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. What is well? I have no idea, but you’ll know if you ask questions. Put money in the hands of people that you know will be generous and bring the tithe. Where your treasure is, so your heart is. If you are going to err on the side of a poverty mentality or prosperity mentality, err on being generous.
  9. Have a good HATtitude.
    What kind of hat do you wear? If you can’t put on the hat of enforcing the rules, you are doing something wrong. Sometimes you need the vision hat. Sometimes you need the corporate hat.
  10. Deal regularly and rapidly with staff infection.
    When you see a shark on your staff – deal with it. If you have to sit down with a staff member and motivate them more than twice, you don’t need them around you.
  11. Watch the leaves.
    People will leave your church. Don’t tell me how many people are coming to your church; tell me how many people are leaving your church. If you are doing the right things, people will leave. Even a third of the angels left heaven.
  12. Become childish.
    One of the most important things in the church is your children’s ministry. Put your best energy, best time, best money, and best volunteers with the children.
  13. Pick up special deliveries.
    Pyramid your church with special days (big events). It must have a meaning behind it and not just gimmicks.
  14. Tweak out!
    Create a climate of critiques. Small tweaks take you to giant peaks.
  15. Investigate what you delegate.
    People don’t do what you expect; they do what you inspect.
  16. To go out, you have to get under.
    I have to get under the things that God has placed over me so that I can get over the things that God has placed under me. This is about authority issues. It is about honor.
  17. The message is the main thing.
    Worship elements, videos, and other things are important, but the message is the main thing.
  18. Become a rescuer.
    Church is about souls. We do all of this because people need the Lord Jesus Christ. We are rescuers.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Lee Cockerell on 3 Steps to Running Disney

Lee Cockerell at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012,  Lee Cockerell, the former VP of Operations for Walt Disney World Resort, discussed the 3 areas he focused on when running a Disney resort.

If you just keep things clean and friendly, everything will be fine.
– Walt Disney

Don’t get bored with the basics in life.

(1) Hire Great People

One of the most important things you can do is hire the right people. Hire great people. The difference between good people and great people is really big.

If you want to know what communication is, it is clarity. “Here is what we expect.”

At Disney, fantasy is reality, and reality is fantastic.
At your church, make reality fantastic. Make the parking lots work. Make the bathrooms clean. Make things work.

(2) Train Your People

Education is the key that opens the door. If you train people, then you can take a nap.

(3) Be a Leader

Be a good role model. Encourage people.

If you get the right culture, everything seems to work out fine. The leader is responsible for the culture.

Areas of Leadership Competency

  1. Be technically competent. If you are in ministry, know the Bible.
  2. Have management competence. Be a planner. Think about the responsibilities you signed up for. Don’t forget personal development and personal health.
  3. Create excitement. Be the type of leader where your team is excited to get to work.

If you have a performance problem with someone on your team, fix them once and not every week.

What Team Members Want

  1. Make me feel special.
  2. Treat me as an individual.
  3. Respect me.
  4. Train and develop me.

Don’t ever underestimate the influence you have over people. Care about being the right kind of person.

Don’t believe half the stuff you think. Half of it isn’t even true.

Diversity is not a problem for young people. They are already practicing diversity. You are the problem.

If you appreciate your people, tell them.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Willie George on Why, What, and How They Changed

Willie George at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012, Willie George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK) discussed why Church on the Move changed, what they changed, and how it changed their people.

I (Willie) cannot tell you how to run your church, but I can tell you what Church on the Move has done. There are many remarkable churches that do things different than us. There has never been a finer hour for the local church.

The more success that a ministry has in reaching one generation, the harder it is often for them to change in reaching the next generation. It is so hard to give up an old strategy, especially one that has brought you everything you have.

1 Kings 17:2-15 (ESV)
2 And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

A God ordained strategy may be something God tells you to do for awhile, but it may change. A lot of us are afraid to change because we are afraid to lose some people, and the people we gain, we aren’t sure how they will pay us back.

There are unreached people in your town who have little or no resources right now that will become the biggest supporters of your ministry. Don’t look for big donors. Look for people with a willing heart. Resources aren’t the problem – it is the willing heart.

Other churches in your city aren’t your enemy; recreation is the enemy. There are more sinners in the city than your church building can hold.

There are people out there that we have the ability to reach, but you are going to have to change because your people are going to change.

When you enter transition periods, Christians start to act like teenagers and become restless and no longer like things. They say, “Pastor’s preaching has lost the anointing,” when reality is nothing has changed. So many believers jump from place to place to place to place because they try to recapture the feeling they want, but they run at the first sign of transition even though that transition will take them to the next level.

Some churches are structured for failure. Our church was!

Why We Changed

Our church culture had placed more emphasis on abundant life (life enhancement) and emotional release for the believer than we did on reaching the lost. The people we had were the focus of our ministry, but today the people we don’t have are the focus of our ministry.

We emphasized a wide variety of ministries when we needed to make the weekend service the main event.

What We Changed

So I (Willie) had to change my preaching to deal with different issues. We very often preach on things that there aren’t a hunger for. Teach people about marriage, kids, money, hard work, etc. We began focusing on the local church is the hope of the world because Jesus cannot work in people’s lives without the work of the local church. You have to realize that your church is an answer for people. We didn’t change our doctrine but rather how we were communicating.

We shortened our services by talking faster and eliminating needless transitions. We cut endless announcements in the service and communicated them preservice via screens in the auditorium and lobby.

We created a healing room next to the auditorium where people can go before or after the service rather than taking up time during the service.

We realized our offering talks don’t make the giving go up at all, so we cut those. Once a quarter, we teach on tithing and that is when giving goes up.

We coordinate every part of the service to tie into the message.

We got rid of unfriendly people. No more ushers that look for telling people what they can’t do. They made our church an unfriendly face. You have to check up on yourself and see hw you come across.

You must critique your preaching. Go back and listen to your preaching.

Make the weekend service the main event. Everything revolves around the weekend. When the vision for Sunday is weak, a host of auxiliary ministries will spring up that choke the weekend ministry. Our ministers were too focused on areas that weren’t really the DNA of the church. The more you narrow your focus, the more your impact will grow when you swing the axe.

Give your people bringvitations, and create a service where people think it is safe to bring their friends.

Try to explain yourself and why you are doing what you are doing. And justify your changes by celebrating your victories (sometimes it is a testimony). Build a culture of testimony in your church. And everytime you tell a story, ask for a story.

How This Changed Our People

There is a misbelief that if we are doing things right, that everyone will stay until the end. This doesn’t mean you should drive people off, but it is good for people to come and go.

When you make the weekend special, your people are motivated to invite all their friends. Highly motivated people will have a bigger impact than any type of media coverage.

The changes helped bring people face to face with God.

Isaiah 6:1-5 (ESV)
1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[a] of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”[b] 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Worship is bringing people face to face with God.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Steven Furtick on Embracing Limitations and Implementing Vision

Steven Furtick at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference 2012, Steven Furtick of Elevation Church (Charlotte, NC) discussed how to embrace limitations and implement vision.

2 Kings 3:9-20 (ESV)
So the king of Israel went with the king of Judah and the king of Edom. And when they had made a circuitous march of seven days, there was no water for the army or for the animals that followed them. 10 Then the king of Israel said, “Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 11  And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?” Then one of the king of Israel’s servants answered, “Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” 12 And Jehoshaphat said, “The word of the Lord is with him.” So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him. 13 And Elisha said to the king of Israel, “What have I to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.” But the king of Israel said to him, “No; it is the Lord who has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.” 14 And Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you. 15 But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. 16 And he said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not see wind or rain, but that streambed shall be filled with water, so that you shall drink, you, your livestock, and your animals.’ 18 This is a light thing in the sight of the Lord. He will also give the Moabites into your hand, 19 and you shall attack every fortified city and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree and stop up all springs of water and ruin every good piece of land with stones.” 20 The next morning, about the time of offering the sacrifice, behold, water came from the direction of Edom, till the country was filled with water.

Acts 3:1-9 (ESV)
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.[a] 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Sometimes the only way to see your vision is to close your eyes and look inside of you to the Holy Spirit. If all you’ve got is vision without faith, you just have a daydream.

Realize that only God can do it.

In 2 Kings, they were mounting an assault that they were more than equipped to defeat, but none of that mattered if they couldn’t find water for survival. Only God can make it rain. Only God can send healing. Only God can make an authentic movement.

If your faith can’t move a mountain then at least dig a ditch.

I (Steven) believe the story in 2 Kings is a metaphor for how God works. God will use natural means to kickstart supernatural results in your life. If you don’t learn how to do it when you don’t feel like it then you will never do it. You can do it. You can make it. Don’t give up. I believe the presence of God is powerful enough to overcome any obstacle that the enemy throws at you.

Elisha doesn’t just give inspiration, but he gives instruction for implementation. Elisha says dig a ditch, but if you are praying for rain, then digging a ditch seems counterintuitive since it isn’t raining yet.

Only God can make it rain, but He expects you to dig a ditch. Start acting like you believe that what you asked for is on the way. You have to get used to building an ark before the rain comes. You are not going to get what you need from God just for showing up and being inspired. You have to implement your faith.

In Acts 3, the man wanted money, but he was given a miracle. We all want the miracle, but a lot of people are just waiting for what they want rather than working with what they’ve got.

Don’t develop an if/then mentality that says “If I had then I’d do.” If you start with what you have and work with what you’ve got then God will multiply it. God takes a little bit and turns it into something more than I could ask or imagine.

Be listening to God. Listen for His instructions. God covers details, but He often doesn’t need you to know all the details.

God is like a GPS that can recalibrate your route according to where your are. But God is better than GPS because He is your guide from beginning to end. When you follow a guide, you don’t have to know anything about your final destination. God doesn’t just want to give us directions; He wants to be our guide who we follow all the way.

If all God does is meet the need, then you would miss out on the relationship and knowing Him as Jehovah Jireh.

Special thanks to Skylark Audio Video for covering my travel expenses so that I can live blog the conference for you. They love churches and are currently offering free AVL consulting.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Dino Rizzo on a Lifelong Journey of Serving

Dino Rizzo at Seeds COnference

At Seeds Conference, Dino Rizzo of Healing Place Church (Baton Rouge, LA) discussed living a lifelong journey of serving.

I believe that there is nothing greater than embracing how God has called you to serve. There is no greater role, title, or position than  being a servant. There is nothing greater to achieve. The greatest husband is a servant. The greatest pastor is a servant.

The one thing that is common with all of us is what Jesus rewards us with. At the end of the day, we will all stand before Jesus as He says, “You have been a faithful servant.” And I believe that being a servant is something easy to drift away from.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

I love the idea of endurance. God, give us hearts that endure. Anyone who has followed Christ for more than a month or so or a year has found that much of what God wants is through a process. God will always use a process. He will always use endurance and perseverance to develop you.

It is the great incubator of the local church that helps build so much endurance. God uses the context of the local church. God uses the context of leadership. It is in the local church that I have learned the most about the race – about being a servant of the Most High.

Jesus was patient with His disciples in the process of developing them who they need to be. In Matthew 15, Jesus was surrounded by all sorts of people with all sorts of problems, and Jesus loved all of them. Jesus told His disciples that He had compassion on them. After three days of healing people, Jesus still had compassion and did not want them to go away hungry. It is almost like Jesus is saying to His disciples, “You think you are done, but you are not done yet.” That is the story of a servant.

Serving is a lifelong journey. I believe that there is a day when all kinds of people with all kinds of problems show up on your doorstep. And you need to serve them. If you are not willing to serve in secret, then you will never be ready to serve faithfully in public. If you don’t value the small things, then you will not be entrusted with big things.

Will you be found serving when the Lord comes to find you?

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

Andrew Tremonti on Leveraging the Challenge of Kids’ Imagination

At Seeds Conference, Andrew Tremonti of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK), discussed teaching 4 and 5 year olds.

Sometimes the biggest challenge to teaching is kids’ imaginations.

However, you can use their imaginations to your advantage. Kids are going to use their imaginations. So rather than letting them daydream, ask them to imagine with you. Take them new places.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar

How to Build & Lead a Creative Arts Team

Whitney George at Seeds Conference

At Seeds Conference, Whitney George of Church on the Move (Tulsa, OK), Pace Hartfield of Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX), and Marty Taylor of Northland, A Church Distributed (Orlando, FL) gave a behind the scenes discussion of how they lead their creative arts teams.

WG: It is not so much about what you do as who you are. What are the personalities like that make up your creative team? Those personalities will shape your art.

MT: Each week, we focus on some specific attribute of God and we connect that attribute to some type of call & response for the church to act on that week.

MT: We don’t ever buy anything just because it’s cool. We buy something because it will help the message.

WG: You don’t do all the lights for the sake of lights. You do it to create environments for worship. God did the same for us when He created a beautiful environment for us to worship in.

PH: And sometimes creating the environment means turning the technology off. Sometimes that is most powerful.

WG: It is about using it in the right way. You always want to keep at the heart of what you are doing, “What am I trying to say?”

WG: When we opened our new auditorium, we asked, “What is the appropriate response?” We thought up a lot of crazy ideas but decided that the appropriate response to launching a new auditorium is worship.

MT: We find out 6 weeks out what a weekend will be and start planning.

PH: We plan 10 weeks to a week out, and sometimes start planning 6 months in advance. We start with whomever will be teaching. Ed Young Jr. will do a mind dump and journaling, and the create planning team will read it all. Then we meet as a group to talk it out. We leave more on the cutting room floor then in the final sermon.

PH: To as best you can, match the leadership style of your pastor. When your pastor feels that support, he will trust you more.

WG: I have to remember that God didn’t call me to run Church on the Move. He called me to serve Church on the Move. You have to make sure that mindset is aligned if you want to be creative.

WG: One of the main things about collaboration is that when start going up, you will see the fruits of that, the disjointedness, showing up on stage. The tech guys and the media guys and the worship guys need to be able to speak into the lives and process of everyone around them.

WG: During rehearsals, we have someone always watching it who is not doing it. That kind of feedback in the time you are putting it together is critical to a great worship environment.

PH: We always have to keep one hand free to adjust for what God wants. You have to be careful to never spiritualize your laziness. Don’t do things on the fly. God is in the details.

MT: I think the approach is greatly affected by how you view the video and the lighting and everything. If you look at the lighting as just another tool, as another worship leader, then it helps to evaluate if it is working together.

WG: Stop thinking of worship as one thing and lighting as one thing and production guys as one thing. They are all one thing together. They are all communication.

WG: Honor and serve. Start honoring the sound man. He is as much of the process as the person on stage. Serving them means respecting their process and putting yourself in their shoes. That relationship is essential.

Further Reading:
2012 Church Conference Calendar