categories: encouragement, leadership
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June 30th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Swerve Favorites: Fasting from Church Stuff

[Repost from August 12, 2008]

For years I tried to be like other ministers. I listened to messages, attended conferences, and devoured every Christian book I could.

Each time I learned from a new leader, I tried to become more like them.

God led me to do something very different. (I don’t recommend this for you. I’m just sharing the story of what God led me to do.)

For an extended season, I stopped attending conferences, reading ministry books, and listening to others’ sermons. Instead of becoming like others, my goal was to become who God wanted me to become.

It was very difficult to cut myself off from learning from other people. During this season, I felt like God wanted me to learn directly from Him.

I still love to study and learn from other leaders, but this journey of intensely seeking God freed me to be me.

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June 29th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Swerve Favorites: Spirit Led Instead of Model Driven

[Repost from August 13, 2008]

Many pastors copy models.

There is the “seeker sensitive” model, the “purpose driven” model, the “emergent church” model, the “contemporary church” model, the “spirit-filled classic charismatic” model, the “small group” model, the “multi-site” model, the “missional inner-city” model, the “dream center” model, and the list could go on and on.

Each of those models and the leaders who practice them have contributed a ton to the Kingdom.

Rather than copying the latest model that moves you, I suggest you let the Spirit of God direct your ministry based on the values, gifts, and people God gives you.

  • What are YOU passionate about?
  • What has God put in YOU?
  • What needs can God use YOU to meet?
  • What breaks YOUR heart?
  • What are YOU uniquely equipped and called to do?

Even if you learn from another model, make it your own. Adapt it for your community. Improve on it. Tweak it. Take it up two notches.

Don’t copy models as much as you follow what God leads you to do.

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categories: encouragement, leadership, staff
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June 28th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Swerve Favorites: An Outsider’s Words Often Mean More

[Repost from October 22, 2008]

I see it as one of my biggest roles to encourage and strengthen our staff.

Almost every time we gather, I remind them they are part of something special. But no matter how often I say it, it doesn’t mean as much as when an outsider tells them.

We’ve been blessed to have Dr. Sam Chand, Chris Hodges, Perry Noble, Steven Furtick, Jentzen Franklin, and Bill Hybels speak to our staff.

Each time, I promise you they say things very similar to what I often say, but when they say it, it means so much more!

  • Invite the youth pastor from the other side of town to speak to your youth leaders.
  • Call another worship leader to lead your choir in worship.
  • Ask a neighboring pastor to speak to your volunteers.

Leverage the voice of friends to lift those around you in a way that you can’t.

How have you observed this in your life or ministry?

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categories: church, communication, encouragement, relationships
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March 3rd, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Your Prayers Matter

Dear Church,

My family is overwhelmed with gratitude for your prayers. Thank you for lifting us before God faithfully.

Several of you ask us often how you can specifically pray for us. I always look forward to giving you honest and immediate needs because I know your prayers make a difference.

If you ever don’t know what to pray, we always are asking God for wisdom to lead well, spiritual direction and power, anointing to teach God’s word, and protection for our family from spiritual and other attacks.

We truly feel your prayers. Without your prayer support, we couldn’t do what we do.

Thank you for caring enough to pray.

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March 2nd, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Your Friendship Matters

Dear Church,

Thank you so much for treating me like a normal person. I feel that you honor the “office” of the pastor but love and accept me as a person.

I don’t take this for granted. Many of my pastor friends tell me that they feel lonely in ministry. Many have explained that other pastors in town are difficult to get to know and trust. Others have expressed deep hurts from friendships-gone-bad with people in their churches.

My family feels loved and accepted and not judged by the church. Some people may act differently around us because they are “with the pastor.” Our family enjoys when you are yourself and let us be ourselves. I’m especially grateful when you don’t put unrealistic expectations on my children and love them as regular kids.

We’ll always try to be a good and faithful example of Christ, but we’re grateful when you love us even though we occasionally fail.

I’d love to hear your perspective of friendships in ministry.

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March 1st, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

Letters from a Pastor

People in my church often ask me, “What can we do to help you?”

This week I’d like to dialog about how people can truly help and support their pastor. I’ll write from my perspective and would love to hear yours.

Your Words of Encouragement Matter

Dear Church,

Thank you so much for taking time to share how God is working in your life. Knowing that our ministry is making a difference is often all I need to keep going when I’d rather give up.

As your pastor, I’m way more “human” than I’d like to be. In my best moments, I’m fully convinced of God’s calling and presence. In my worst moments, I feel weak, insecure and totally ineffective as a Christian, much less the shepherd of a flock.

Just last week, one of you took the time to tell me how God has used our church to change your life for the better. I didn’t tell you, but on the inside I was wondering if my efforts mattered. God used your words to minister to me in a deep way.

Thanks so much for telling me how God is working in your life!

How has God used your church to minister to you?

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categories: communication, development, encouragement, relationships, spiritual development
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February 4th, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

The Other Side of the Betrayal

Let me say first of all that I would never recommend that anyone betray another person in any way.

Yet I’ve seen how God often uses what Satan meant for harm, a betrayal, to make a relationship better on the other side.

For example, I can’t count the number of times I’ve counseled a couple through an affair. Although many times this will cause an unstable marriage to break down, often times the opposite is true. When both people are truly seeking Christ, the power of forgiveness and healing overcomes the power of the evil one.

Amy and I watched as a betrayed wife accepted her wayward husband back. Through tears she told him she was choosing to forgive him as freely as Christ had forgiven her.

Stunned, he returned a bold promise that he’d devote the rest of his life to serving Christ and serving her. So far he’s delivered on his promise. Their marriage is better today than it ever has been.

If you’ve been hurt by someone or by a church, maybe your relationship—with God’s help—can be even better on the other side.

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categories: accountability, communication, development, encouragement, leadership, personal
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February 3rd, 2010

by Craig Groeschel

The Other Side of the “Almost Termination”

I’m writing this post on a plane next to Jerry Hurley, our pastor of team development. Jerry leads a team that hires, trains, and develops our whole staff.

We were talking about how many of our star staff members almost didn’t make the cut at some point or another.

I remember during my first ministry role at First United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City, several people on the board decided that I was the wrong fit for the job. They told me plainly that I wasn’t likely to remain in that role.

Around the same time, leaders of the denominational ordination committee sincerely questioned my “call” to ministry. After several difficult conversations, God planted a deep resolve in my heart to humble myself, become teachable, and do whatever it took to please God–even if it meant losing my job.

Something inside me changed. I was no longer trying to prove myself and keep my job, I was trying to please God and fulfill His calling. On the other side of these rough spots, I had the opportunity to do more effective ministry at FUMC than I did before.

When a person faces one of his or her greatest fears of being terminated, sometimes the best ministry is still on the other side.

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