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Our Top Reads of 2017

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Reading has been referred to as "the gymnasium for the mind." As leaders, we can learn and grow so much from it. Both Pastor Gene and I love reading and hope to inspire you to take on some great books this year!

In this week's podcast, Pastor Gene and I are sharing with you our top reads of 2017. If you would like to purchase a copy of your own, simply click the book title. Let’s get started!

Pastor Kelly’s #3: Own the Moment by Carl Lentz

This was my most recent read. Carl Lentz is the pastor of the Hillsong New York Church and his book follows the many stories of his life and of his ministry. It is incredibly inspiring and honest. I took away many great principles from what Lentz shared, principles that I want to apply to my own life and ministry as a pastor.

For me, the most memorable story Lentz included was one of an experience he had while attending the Hillsong Bible College. He was asked to come up to the front of the class to pray but he was so terrified that he ran away and hid in the bathroom, even standing atop a toilet so that no one would know he was there. It was amazing to read that account from a man who is now being interviewed across America and has become one of the biggest spokespeople for the next generation church. It just shows that God can use anyone, anywhere, and that even though some of our heroes look like they have it all together, everyone has their struggles. God can use our greatest weaknesses for His glory! I think my favourite quote from the book would have to be when Lentz said, “I want to be a leader and a husband and a pastor who is so secure that I can love quickly, give generously, and forgive freely because I know where my life is anchored.”

Pastor Kelly’s #2: The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day by John Maxwell

This book is a devotional for leaders and is taken from John Maxwell’s book called The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership but is a Bible study. Maxwell takes the 21 laws and gives an example of a Biblical character, walking you through their process of mastering a particular law. I love that he takes a character and a law and gives you a week's worth of devotions for them. It allows you to meditate for a week on that law and put it into practice yourself. I’d highly recommend every pastor and leader get this devotional.

If I am honest, I have been bored of Maxwell’s books lately. Don’t get me wrong, he is one of my all-time favourite authors and no one compares to him when it comes to leadership. However, I have found a number of his latest books to be receptive of his earlier works and I didn’t get much out of them. But, this one was different. I found it refreshing, inspiring, and very very practical. I just wanted to get that out there just in case there were others that were feeling the same about Maxwell’s writing lately.

I think this book partners very well with The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The devotional digs a little further into each law by giving an actual historical example through the Biblical characters. I think the 21 Laws book is one of the best leadership books ever written and would highly suggest you put it on the top of your reading list for 2018. And get Maxwell’s devotional to partner with it; the two of them will take your leadership to another level!

Pastor Gene’s #3: Instinct by TD Jakes

This one was a re-read for me. I decided to go through it again because I really appreciate the phrasing of Jakes’ thoughts. My favourite quote is about Jakes watching his children “unpack the inventory of their uniqueness”. I am still “unpacking my uniqueness,” as is Pastor Kelly.

Pastor Gene’s #2: Ted Talks by Chris Anderson & Spark and Grind by Erik Wahl

Ted Talks is one of my favourite websites. This book is about how the various speakers create their Ted Talks. It is very practical and references various talks that were challenging to the presenter. Everyone from Monica Lewinsky to Colin Powell.

Pastor Kelly read Talk like Ted which is one of his top picks for 2017 as well. It is one of the reasons our church has switched to 18-minute sermons on Sunday’s.

One of my main takeaways from Talk like Ted was the thought that “overstuffed” equals “under-explained”. Woodrow Wilson famously said, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” Presenting just one idea and doing it well takes time. Richard Bach writes, “Great writing is all about the power of the deleted word.” I believe the same is true in speaking.

My second choice for the #2 slot is Spark and Grind by Erik Wahl. “Spark” refers to those “aha!” moments when we have an idea. “Grind” refers to “grinding an idea to the finish line.” We often face the problem of running with a good idea and ignoring better ideas that may come up along the way. Grinders are people who ignore better sparks along the way. We need to learn to do both; always expect new sparks and always be grinding ideas to their finish line. Our first idea is never the best because ideas grow. The point is to spark new ideas even while grinding our first idea to the finish line.

Pastor Gene’s #1: Resilience by Eric Greitens

This is an awesome book of letters from one Navy Seal to another. For Navy Seals, the frontline is where they live with purpose and experience victories and friendships, but also a place of fear, struggle, and suffering. Once out of their military service, they have to find a new purpose, similar to when people go through challenging times like divorce or addiction. Greitens challenges his friend that the words we say to ourselves are tools by which resilience is maximized.

He sites professional climbers and the discipline of packing well. Every tool has a purpose; a sleeping bag for sleeping, a lantern for light, gloves for protection etc. Every tool has a purpose and every tool has a weight. At sea level, an axe feels like a feather but at 12,000 feet, hours from the summit, an extra pound feels like an anvil. Words have value and the right words can right your balance. We have to carry what is essential and leave the rest behind. Thus the quote, “When we’re struggling, we need the right words in our mind.” Resilience is packed full of truths that line up with the Word of God but are freshly worded.

Pastor Kelly’s #1: Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch

This is not a new book, in fact, it’s been out for a while, but I got to it just last year. I think one reason I avoided it is the sheer size of the book: it’s quite a hefty read. I also didn’t know how much of it would apply to me. But, I found it to be a fascinating read and I took a bunch of practical principles from it that I could apply to my own leadership.

I think my ultimate top pick for #1 would have to be my new book coming out this year! It is called Six Anchors and is a 40-day devotional based on hope. Hebrews 6:19 says that “this hope will be an anchor for our souls.” The Amplified Bible defines that anchor as one that “cannot slip and it cannot break down under whatever pressure bears upon it.” So, I did a Bible study on the word hope and exactly where the Bible says we can place our hope that would not give out. I found six specific places where the Bible instructs us to place our hope, hence the name “Six Anchors”. My prayer is that it will help readers to locate (or relocate) their hope so that they can live life with the fullest confidence regardless of the circumstances surrounding them. The book certainly helped me with this as I wrote it. We hope to release it on Easter Sunday: April 1st, 2018. 

Motivation for Reading

I am addicted to reading. I think it is because as leaders, we are constantly faced with new problems and challenges. I find that I am always looking for new solutions and ideas to face the ever-changing challenges that come my way as a leader. It is one discipline that helps me refuel and re-fire for the future. It helps me stay solution focused instead of problem focused. I need it or I won’t survive as a leader.

The Word of God is the best read anytime and anywhere; it’s really our number one read at all times. 2018 is a great time to encourage people - and yourself - to read the Bible with fresh eyes and a fresh heart every time they pick it up. The Bible is alive and there has never been, and never will be, a book that can duplicate it. It comes partnered with the Holy Spirit who makes what was written in it thousands of years ago so alive for life today. It’s the lifeblood of every human, especially leaders, and most definitely for us pastors. We need it, not just as a preparation tool for our sermons, but as a life source for us personally. Why? Because it is in the Bible that we can hear from God the best and get His guidance to lead His church as the hope of the world on our God-given mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

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Culture is prominent in every organization, whether that organization realizes it or not. It s how the organization feels—it’s the heart of the organization. It is more powerful than vision, mission or strategy and it happens by default or by design.

Authentic verses Trendy Leadership

We’ve got the most important message in history to communicate. We can’t become married to our methods by either getting stuck in the past or by compromising the message by focusing too much on being trendy. So how do you find the balance?

What Makes the Great Great

What Makes the Great Great? What is their secret? What habits and practices do the great do regularly that sets them apart?

Today I want to give you a little insight into a teaching I heard a number of years ago on the topic of Greatness from John Maxwell. I thought his teaching was so good that I wanted to share my notes with you and talk about what I learned through his teaching.

The truth is, defining greatness is as challenging as achieving it.

Success can be defined as how well I have done for ___________________.

Significance is how well I have done for myself and___________________.

Greatness is how well I have ___________________ others to do well for themselves and others.

What makes the Great great?

  1. Great People Think…

    1. ___________________.“All things are possible to him who believes; they are less difficult to him who hopes; they are easy to him who loves; and they are simple to anyone who does all three.” ~Brother LawrencePossibility thinking will give you… a) b) c) d) e)

    2. ___________________.

    3. ___________________. Abundance thinking is the foundation of ___________________. Abundance thinking is also the catalyst of ___________________.

Great People Prepare…

  1. ___________________. “Champions do not become champions in the ring. They are merely recognized in the ring. Their becoming happens in their daily routine.” ~Joe Frazier

  2. ___________________. Q: “Do you see yourself in your picture of success?”

  3. ___________________. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjust the sails.” ~William Arthur Ward

Great People Work…

  1. ___________________. Those with passion ___________________; those without passion ___________________.

  2. ___________________. “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” ~Abraham Lincoln

  3. Beyond ___________________.“Your success in your career will be in direct proportion to what you do after you’ve done what you are expected to do.” ~Brian Tracey

Great People Live…

  1. With ___________________.“Humility means knowing and using your strength for the benefit of others, on behalf of a higher purpose. The humble leader is not weak, but strong…is not pre-occupied with self, but with how best to use his or her strengths for the good of others. A humble leader does not think less of himself, but chooses to consider the needs of others in fulfilling a worthy cause. I love to be in the presence of a humble leader because they bring out the very best in me. their focus is on my purpose, my contribution, and my ability to accomplish all I set out to accomplish.” ~Alan Ross

  2. With ___________________.“Integrity can be looked at in two parts, honesty (or truthfulness) and reliability. When we show we are not honest or reliable, we make large withdrawals from our “trustworthiness account” that will require numerous deposits to get back to the same place with that person.” ~Time Irwin

  3. ___________________.“A person first starts to live when he can live outside himself.” ~Albert Einstein

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The Why Behind My Victory Starts Here

I began pastoring as a very naive 23 year old. I was the worship leader at a fairly new church plant in Canmore, Alberta and one day our senior pastor felt he should go plant another church and turned his church over to me.

To be honest, I hadn’t ever planned on being a lead pastor. I wasn’t sure how to run a church and so I looked everywhere for help and for a mentor. Pastor George Hill became that mentor to me. I am so appreciative of what he has poured into me over the years.

It was his Bible College class on the book of Acts that I first fell in love with the local church and its call on the earth. I was inspired by his vision and the vision of Victory Churches to Reach, Teach, and Mobilize. To me, this vision most reflected the heartbeat of the early church in the book of Acts and it was a vision that fulfilled the global mission Jesus gave his followers in Matthew 28.

It is a never ending vision. We reach every available person, by every available means, at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ; teaching them to become disciples and mobilizing them to Reach every available person. It is a vision that works in every country, with every people group, in every language. It is simple and portable. And I love it!

So, I went to work as a pastor to live this vision in my church. The problem was, I wasn’t sure how to translate the vision to my local setting. How does a local church most effectively reach every available person, while at the same time teaching those you’ve reached, while mobilizing others into their own callings?

To be honest, I have wrestled with how to most effectively do all three of these things for most of my ministry career. It’s required me to continually mess with the methods while keeping the message sacred.

By the time I had arrived in Lethbridge, five and a half years ago, I had learned how to become effective in reaching a community. I went to work, with our amazing board and staff, at refocusing the Lethbridge church outward and at reaching the unchurched community. Because Pastor George Hill was my mentor for many years, and continues to be to this day, and because he was the founding pastor of this church, the church very quickly took to the vision. Many of those who had been in the church from the beginning remarked at how it felt just like it did in the beginning with Pastors George and Hazel. I knew we were moving in the right direction. Our methods are a little different, but they should be. After all, it is 2016 not 1979. But the vision was the same.

We started to see amazing results. In the first year we saw 386 people come to a relationship with Jesus for the first time. In our second year, another 400 became first time believers. We had successfully created a church that unchurched people loved to attend and we were effectively reaching every available person, by every available means with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A new problem presented itself. While hundreds were coming to Christ every year, a very small percentage of them were remaining in the church. The majority of those we had reached we never saw again. We were greatly dissatisfied. Jesus said to go into all of the world and make disciples, not just converts.

Desperate to find a solution, our pastoral team gathered together and began to brainstorm how we could most effectively increase our retention rates and make disciples.

The first question we tackled was “What is a disciple?” We knew that if we couldn’t concretely define what one was, we would not be effective in making one. It was in the middle of this search, that I heard Pastor George speak at one of our conferences and in his talk he used verses from 1 John 2 where John said to the early church, “I write to you little children…I write to you young men…and I write to you fathers.”

That’s when it hit me, he was describing the maturity process of a Christ follower. He was defining a disciple!

I came back to our team and shared my revelation. They were all excited and we began brainstorming around what all of that would mean and how to translate that into the every day life of our church.

The conclusion we came to was that spiritual maturity revolves totally around the Word of God. When John described little children, he was describing the new believers who did not yet understand the Word and were still completely dependent on others to teach them and feed them spiritually.

When John described the young men, he described them as strong in the Word. We concluded that they were strong because they were independent and regularly fed themselves the Word.

When John described fathers, he was describing those who were not only self feeders, but also took to the time and effort to teach and train others in the Word. We suddenly saw, REACH, TEACH, and MOBILIZE in the Scripture.

We went to work designing a new retention plan. We evaluated everything we were doing as a church and discussed at length what we should be doing in order to effectively Reach, Teach, and Mobilize disciples.

We settled on 5 things:

  1. _____________________. We would continue to create weekly church services that the unchurched would love to attend and in every single service we committed to giving an opportunity for people to commit their lives to Christ by leading them through the salvation prayer.
  2. _____________________. We would begin small groups in our church and would encourage all of our weekly attendees to participate in a weekly Connect Group with the purpose of building intimate relationships while discussing the Bible in a small group setting. Relationships are the key to helping new comers “remain” and it is a great way to make a big church small. It is also a great way to mobilize our mature believers to become “fathers”—feeding others the Word.
  3. _____________________. We determined to make it a weekly habit to encourage our people to read the Bible daily as well as provide as many ways as we could for them to feed on the Word of God themselves. We determined to not be a church that keeps people dependent on their pastor to feed them, but instead taught them how to feed themselves. This is where they become strong to face their storms, and remain standing.
  4. _____________________. We decided that we would unashamedly encourage all of our people to participate in the activities of the local church by volunteering their time and energies to its growth. We feel that if people can give of themselves by serving others that they will not drift into the dangerous lane of me-church. I feel that the natural gravitation pull of every local church is to become insider focused. To resist this pull, we feel it necessary to keep our people participating in serving others. Regular volunteering is one great way to do just that.
  5. _____________________. One of the big tests as to whether we are effectively creating services that unchurched people love to attend, is whether or not our regular attenders feel comfortable to invite their unchurch friends or family to our weekly services. Using Acts 15:19 as our cue, “we don’t want to make it difficult for the unchurched to come to Jesus.” So, we regularly poll our people as to whether they are inviting or feel comfortable to invite their friends or family members to church. And we do what we can to remove all cringe factors that would hinder them from doing so. In our latest poll, 78% of our regular attenders invited at least one unchurched person to church with them in the last year.

These 5 were the model in which we built all of our ministries on. Our children’s ministry leads kids to Attend, Connect, Read, Serve, and Invite. Our youth ministry leads people to Attend, Connect, Read, Serve, and Invite. The entire church does these 5 things and only these 5 things. Any activity that does not lead people to do these 5, does not happen. 

With this model in place, we then began working on materials to teach and equip our new believers into a fully committed relationship with Christ. We looked at all kinds of materials out there, and while there are a lot of great tools that teach people the basics of Christianity, we didn't find anything that led people into a deeper participation in what we feel are vital activities within the local church. And, we didn’t find anything that really furthered our vision of Reach, Teach, Mobilize. We found things that were effective in one or two, but nothing that led people into all three.

So, we built our own. We first released it as a January series to begin our year. We called it B40X. It included a weekly sermon, a weekly small group guide, and a daily devotional. The effect on our church was incredible. That year we led over 400 people to Jesus and retained over 250 of them in the church! We were excited, but felt we could do even better. So, we have been honing this process for the last couple of years, and the result is My Victory Starts Here.

We put the devotional and small group guides in print because we felt they could become a tool to REACH the unchurched, TEACH the little children, and MOBILIZE the young men to become fathers by giving them a resource that they could give to someone they were discipling.

We have now equipped our mature believers with a resource that they can disciple their new believing friends and family members with, on their own, without relying on the pastors of the church to conduct a Christianity 101 class.

Our retention has never been better and I think if we use this tool properly we can become even more effective in making disciples. This is a tool to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. This is also a tool that allows us to effectively REACH, TEACH, and MOBILIZE.

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