Month: September 2013

When Leaders Gather

This week we are hosting leaders from around the country at our New Life Leadership and Worship Conference. Our entire team looks forward to this time every year because it is a chance to have conversations and learn from some of the best pastors, leaders and volunteers on the planet. When I attend a gathering of leaders like this one,  I pray for several things to happen for all of us.

1. Fresh perspective

There is nothing like getting away to a new setting to bring new perspectives. We sometimes cannot see the forest for all the congregational trees and coming away to a gathering of leaders from diverse backgrounds and experiences can give us a fresh set of eyes. Many times, I have come to these gatherings wrestling with decisions that need to be made and the answer comes from one sentence from a speaker or during a random worship song or sideline conversation.

2. New friends

Some of my best friends were introduced to me at leader’s conferences. All of us need more friends in the ministry and settings like a conference provide space for conversations and relationships that can last a lifetime.

3. Personal renewal

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places, away from his primary assignment, to pray, reflect, refuel and to reengage. The same is true with pastors today. We need to retreat, to take off our “pastor” hats and simply become a follower again. Sitting still and listening intently can mean the difference between burnout and finishing strong.


Pray with me this week for all the pastors and leaders who are here to find fresh perspective, to meet new friends, and to find new strength for what God has called them to accomplish.

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The Place, Face and Pace

The congregation in Antioch was blessed with a number of prophet-preachers and teachers. One day as they were worshipping God – they were also fasting as they waited for guidance – the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.” So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off.

Acts 13:1-3 MSG

This is one of my favorite stories in the book of Acts. From the very beginning, the local church was supposed to be a family that celebrated multiplication and expansion. We are designed by our creator to nurture and send out our best. In the past six years at New Life, we have planted four churches in the US, dozens more overseas, and helped several of our staff transition to take key roles at existing churches. We have also launched a campus in our downtown area and are planning for more campus multiplication soon. Whether planting new churches, strengthening existing ones or opening campuses, I have learned there are three key factors that determine the success of each transition.

The Place

First, God gives us a burden for a place. Two years ago, while praying for our city, I felt an increasing responsibility to go to the downtown area. So, we began looking for places to meet, asking pastors of other downtown churches for their input and assessing the demands and needs of the area. The more we talked and asked questions, the more intense the burden became. It was clear the Lord was leading us to expand to a new place.

The Face

Second, God shares that burden with a person who is willing to go. About the same time, Pastor Glenn Packiam felt a transition in his role with our congregation and he was beginning to feel the same thing for downtown. Glenn had several important responsibilities at our main campus, but his team was ready to take over the leadership of his areas so he could be released to go. Glenn is a great communicator, teacher and leader and was the perfect person to go downtown with a team of people. We had the place and the face, but there was one last thing to consider.

The Pace

Third, God gives us a pace. Timing is so important in every transition, especially if it involves key staff. Are they really ready as a leader to lead a congregation of their own? Are there emerging leaders ready to take their place or will their departure cause more harm than good to the sending church? Is their enough budget to fund them properly? Do they have a team to go with them? All of this requires wisdom, lots of conversation, and much prayer. Leaving too quickly can cause irreparable harm to both parties, but so can staying around too long. Pace is important, if not critical in the process.

All of this requires prayer and trusting, truthful relationships. It requires pastors willing to send and leaders who are willing to say “yes” to the adventure of going to the unknown. I am grateful Barnabas and Saul answered the call and for a church in Antioch that was not afraid to release their best people into a world that really needed them.


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The Nicene Creed

New Life Church proclaims the Nicene Creed as our statement of belief. This creed dates back to the fourth century, when Christians came together and composed this formative and definitive statement. Building on earlier, shorter creedal phrases and crafted from careful study of the central texts of Scripture shared among the community of faith, the Nicene Creed has stood the test of time as a standard of what Christians from every stream of the Body of Christ believe. It is more than an intellectual checklist of doctrine; it is a confession of worship that forms us as the people of God and draws us together into the life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son].1
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic2 and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.


1. Early versions of the Nicene Creed do not contain the phrase “and the Son.”

2. Or “universal.”

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