Where are you headed?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Taking the stew out of stewardship!

I spend most of my ministry/working hours helping churches raise big dollars for big projects. It's a calling and I love helping churches pull off something really huge.

After 20+ years of doing this,I have come up with a handful of "essentials" and I thought I would share some of them with you. I will list them in no particular order.

1. Money flows to vision<. I can't recall how many times I have been asked, "Bob, what do I have to do to raise $$$$ ( you can put in your amount)? My answer has always been the same, "If you want to raise a million dollars, it takes a million dollar vision."

2. Sooner rather than later you have to decide if your project is a NEED or a WOULDN'T IT BE NICE. Money is tight and people do not give to wouldn't it be nice and people are smart they can tell the difference between the two.

3. Always, always, always show the kingdom impact of your project.

4. I believe the number one issue I have faced over the last 20+ years, is getting pastors to believe that their people will give. There is no need to offer an apology for asking for a financial commitment...if YOU are going to make a commitment yourself.

5. Finally, expect the best from your people and the best way to do this is to set a great example for them.

I will continue this in my next post. If in the meantime you can check my website at www.therelevantgroup.com

Enjoying the drive!

bob farris

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Not often will I write about a specific pastor, let alone a client, but today is an exception. I had to work the 4th of July weekend. Friday-Sunday I was in Cleveland, Ohio, working with Pastor Rodney Maiden.

Friday we had a very late dinner. We got to the restaurant at 10:45 PM and left at 12:30 AM. I had lots of questions. Many of the answers were “God stories.”

Pastor Maiden shared with me some his journey of pastoring a church that has grown from 100 to nearly 2,000. I saw how much Pastor Maiden loves his people and how much his people love him.

Two stories that I want to share with you.

Lesson #1

The first lesson was ever so easy to talk about, but a huge lesson to learn…It is not about me! Many pastors mouth those words but a lesser number really masters the lesson contained in those five powerful words. I saw a peaceful pastor of a continually growing church who so much enjoyed his ministry because he knew it was not about him.


The other lesson, if learned early in a ministry, can be life changing for a pastor...The more I gave up, the more I got. Pastor Maiden told me that as a young pastor he would use the “But I am the pastor” chant to get his way. That phrase has been the battle cry of many pastors. Some even believe there is a biblical right or mandate to use such words. All I can tell you is I have worked with 100’s of pastors who have been freed up in their ministry when they have learned to say, “The more I gave up, the more I got.

Now Pastor Maiden doesn’t have to ask for things, the leaders ask him, “Pastor what do think is best” or “Pastor what do you think we should do?” or “Pastor what do you need?”

What lesson have you learned?

Enjoying the journey!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Some Great Advice

When I was in the initial phase of starting my church, The Quest, I emailed one of my favorite authors - Rob Webber. Rob Webber passed away a few years ago, but I will never forget two things - 1, that he took the time and emailed me back; and 2, what he shared with me in that email. I have never forgotten it.

I emailed him because I was seeking advice and wisdom about planting a church. I simply asked, "If you could give advice/wisdom to a church planter - what would that be?" I must admit I didn't expect an email back. Authors and speakers like Rob Webber are very busy and receive tons of email and other correspondence. But I took the chance anyway. Quickly I received an email back from Rob. It was short and to the point. It simply read:

"Keep an ear to the Word, and an ear to the World. --- Bob"

As I started this new church venture, I couldn't stop thinking about what he said. In the last 5 years since I've been planting this church, I still can't stop thinking about it. It's such great advice. It's such incredible wisdom. Born out of years of fruitful ministry. An ear to the Word (God), and an ear to the world (our culture).

This is such great advice because it is exactly what Jesus did. He came as THE WORD (the "logos" in John 1) and came into THE WORLD ("pitched his tent among us" in John 1). He was the perfect balance of Word and the World.

Whether you are planting a church, in an existing church, wondering about church at all ... whatever you are doing ... keep an ear to the Word, and an ear to the World. And watch what God does.

Taking the drive,


Monday, June 21, 2010

Lessons I've Learned in the Past Two Weeks

This is sort of good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
The Relevant Group had a booth at a church conference that was being held in Atlanta. 4500 church leaders from across the US and beyond were gathered for several days to do whatever you do at a large denominational conference.
I worked the booth for four days. I talked to a lot of “interesting” people.
One lady told me that in addition to attending her denominational church she also works with a declining Baptist congregation. Here’s the bad news. She went on to say the Baptist church is so small they are about to close their doors and the primary concern of the people there is keeping the church cemetery going after the church dies.
How crazy is that? They are more concerned about keeping the cemetery alive than keeping the church alive. Bad news!!!
Good news! My wife, Beth, who is a teacher, told me something about their public elementary school that I found so very exciting. Every day at school, the principal gets on the loud speaker and teaches leadership to kids, kindergarten – fifth grade. She teaches principles of leadership every day to all 1,000 students.
Question, who is your church teaching leadership skills too? If you teach it, they will get it. Later on, you will be so glad you started teaching leadership to your elementary age kids.
My eight year old grandson started being a part of a weekly small group, yes small group (that’s what the church called it) when he was THREE years old.
I’m thinking Jake will be leading a small group when he is in middle school. Why, because his church taught him the importance of being in and leading small groups.
Final thought…my guess is Jake will never have to worry about keeping the church cemetery alive.

Enjoying the drive.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sometimes Less is More

Successful businesses concern themselves with quality control. Is that true of your endeavors?

I mentioned the last time I wrote that I attend North Point and one of the things that is true about that church is they do not allow things to get stale. I have to believe that early on, the leadership made a decision to “keep it fresh and keep it meaningful.”

Another observation is at NPCC, things are changed BEFORE they get stale. In my travels, visiting and working with churches, across the country, I am shocked at how many churches that call themselves, “contemporary”, and are singing choruses that were “in” in the 70’s. Nothing wrong with singing choruses from the seventies, just don’t call your church contemporary.

It’s all about quality control. Just so I am being understood, quality control is good for traditional churches too. Each year I get to work with some outstanding traditional churches. They have no desire to be a rock and roll church and that is fine. Those that are intentional about being the best they can be are also concerned about quality control.

If you haven’t really focused on QC, how do you get started? Form an audit team and go through everything that goes on at your church. Set standards, make sure you have core values that are written and agreed upon by your leadership. My wife is a teacher and for years, her school has been creating rubrics to measure how their students are performing. Some churches have actually talked to me about how they have created rubrics to measure the effectiveness of their programs and ministries.

Here’s the bottom line, whatever you do, do well. Don’t’ be afraid to admit that now is the time to retire or take a break from some things that are not in alignment with your core values.

Remember, sometimes less is more.

Enjoying the drive,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What is leadership, really?

Reading Henry and Richard Blackaby's book called Spiritual Leadership. In their book they define leadership as "moving people on to God's agenda." Anything else, they say, is not true spiritual leadership.

I like this definition - a lot. The reason? It focuses attention on what is most important when it comes to leadership --- people and their lives really and truly being changed and transformed in such a way that they no longer live for themselves and their own agendas, but for God and His agenda for their lives. Too often the focus of leadership tends to be on whether or not we can get people to buy into some "vision" or "plan," etc. But none of that matters if what we are doing doesn't move people closer to God and His Vision and Plan for their lives.

As you evaluate your leadership, ask yourself: "Am I moving people on to God's agenda for their lives? Why or why not?"

May God empower you and use you to move people toward His Kingdom purposes.

Taking the drive,

John Kenney

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Casting Vision and Raising Faithful Stewards

I am privileged for so many reasons…
 I love my wife and she loves me
 Our family truly enjoys being “our” family
 I have a wonderful career working with some incredible people
 My pastor and my church are phenomenal

I go to North Point Community Church and my pastor is Andy Stanley. I love going to church. Today, Sunday, April 16, I heard, perhaps, the best message I have ever heard on money. I can remember when we did not hear too many messages on giving, but over the years they come with more frequency.

As Andy was preaching on giving he was also casting vision. The two go together inseparably. You can bank on this, and yes and I mean this both literally and figuratively. In fact, here is the way I share with pastors, money flows toward vision.

Andy made it ever so clear that he would not get a raise if more people started to tithe. But, he drew some great pictures; he talked about never having to do another capital campaign if everyone started tithing. I almost had a heart attack when he said that but the truth is I would welcome that.

Andy went on to say if all the people of North Point tithed we could build buildings for Atlanta Union Mission and catch this, he said as the school systems have started laying off teachers because of the economy, North Pointers could pay for some displaced teachers to go back to work. We could make sure that schools still had art and music teachers.

When you prepare your next stewardship message, remember money flows to vision. Always has, always will…

Enjoying the drive,