Exciting News for Summer & Fall 2020 from William Jessup University

William Jessup University is excited to see the many lives being transformed across all of our student populations.  Campus-based and distributed options are flourishing at Jessup, even as we navigate the wind-down of the spring semester during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The Jessup faculty and staff community have been heroic in their efforts and impact upon student lives under the most trying of circumstances.  Jessup students have shown themselves to be amazingly flexible, compassionate, and resilient during this uncertain and disruptive time; their character exemplifies the spirits of transformational leaders and Jessup Warriors.

Thankfully and mercifully, Jessup has remained free of any confirmed coronavirus cases across our student, staff, and faculty communities.  Please join me in continuing to pray for God’s provision of health and safety over our students, our staff and faculty, and the Jessup community as a whole.  

Many are now asking, “What next?”  I want to be clear that our mission remains the same: “William Jessup University partners with the Church to educate transformational leaders for the glory of God.”  We are a Christ-centered university, equipping men and women for God-honoring influence across every sphere and sector of our society.

So, what is next?  Jessup will continue to work with our respected County and City leadership, along with our health care and law enforcement professionals to maintain a thriving educational environment on our campuses.  Thankfully, our large and spacious campus environment at all 3 of our campus allows us to accomplish social distancing and other appropriate measures as needed.  Our goal for summer includes the provision of  science classes for a limited number of students, with appropriate social distancing and healthcare protocols, to ensure that our health sciences students in the community can be prepared for fall.  It is also our strong and faithful intent to resume on-campus instruction at our Rocklin, San Jose, and Elk Grove campuses for this fall. 

We recognize that Jessup is not just a school, it is a community – connected by our love of learning, of each other, and of our Lord.  It is important educationally, socially, and spiritually, for us to be together.  With input from our local health officials, we are working diligently towards resuming our personalized transformational education on campus as soon as possible.  We look forward to the time when we safely gather, learn, and worship together in community…on campus and distributed…as One Jessup.   

We will provide you with further details regarding our protocols and practices in the days and weeks to come.  Please stay alerted to our website (jessup.edu) and social media platforms (Twitter: @williamjessup, Facebook: facebook.com/williamjessupuniversity, Instagram: @jessupu ) for more up to date information.

An Open Letter to Governor Newsom and CA County Leaders

Churches and Counties Working Together for Public Health

COVID-19 has changed so much.  But, the best of our lives have not changed.   We are strong and a resilient people and heroes are emerging from our midst every day.  We personally want to thank Governor Newsom for his steady leadership during this crisis.  Further, we have dared to believe for a miracle and the fact that California has thus far been spared the most severe estimated destruction of the virus is an answer to the prayers of thousands.

Today, California has made very substantial progress in our health care preparedness and the 58 counties are experiencing very different realities, depending upon their population density and demographics.  We believe that Counties, as the primary overseer of public health, are particularly well situated to provide health and safety guidelines for their residents.  We support the Governor and the County Officials in their appropriate and constitutionally governed roles.

At the same time, we honor and affirm the inalienable rights granted to all of us by our Creator and recognized in our founding documents here in the United States.  Further, we are clear that all citizens should have the freedom of assembly, the freedom of the press, and the freedom of religion guaranteed in our country.  People of faith are committed to our communities and seek to provide love, compassion, and kindness wherever they live, gather, and serve.  We believe the human need for community and worship is indeed essential in the human experience.  The care of souls is a fundamental joy in the human experience.  The federal government has recognized that clergy and churches are essential services, in alignment with our constitution.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has indeed brought many chilling realities, including the horrid loss of life, stress on our healthcare systems, and the economic and social disruptions caused by our stringent quarantine restrictions.  Many of these circumstances have been bracing, but perhaps none more so than the specter of people suffering and dying alone.  Funerals and Weddings, Births and Graduations, and public celebrations of all kinds are either deferred or experiencing in virtual isolation.  The effect of our health and economic decisions may, in time, be eclipsed by the spiritual and social impacts of our choices these last many weeks.

It is into this reality that we plead with the Governor and County officials to understand that churches and religious activities of clergy are essential services.  We trust spiritual leaders to be wise stewards of their faith communities and establish appropriate and health sensitive parameters for gatherings.  We believe churches in each county in California should be allowed to work with appropriate county authority to establish parameters for worship services, funerals, weddings, and a host of other important activities that build up the human spirit.  We recognize grocery stores as essential; we believe that the Bread of Life is fundamentally even more important.

Thank you Governor Newsom and State and County officials for hearing us.  We pray for you and pledge to work with you in the implementation of responsible guidelines for the essential religious observances which feed the human spirit as we engage in this war against an unseen but deadly enemy.

An Appeal for California Churches

April 28, 2020 SACRAMENTO — Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and Dr. John Jackson, president of William Jessup University, release the following statement calling California leaders to allow churches in the state to begin opening their doors as places of worship, service, compassion and reflection:

We are mindful of our nation’s proud heritage of religious liberty, established from its founding as a place of refuge and respect for people of faith. Today, we join together respectfully urging California’s governor, county supervisors, mayors and other civic leaders to support the reopening of church gatherings in ways that are sensitive to public health concerns as well as providing for the fundamental freedoms so richly encouraging to personal and societal well-being and ensconced in our founding documents.

We want to work with our governmental leaders and are mindful of the importance of doing so with mutual respect in alignment with our convictions around Romans 13 and other appropriate biblical passages. We are grateful to our governmental leaders and have been in increased corporate and personal prayer for them throughout these days.

We understand that various counties in California have different circumstances and are mindful that state, county, and local guidance will provide varying public health frameworks that church leaders can utilize in addition to any national guidelines that are provided. We believe that churches can and will be responsible as members of our community utilizing the following guidelines here in California. We submit the following for your respectful consideration:

May: Suggest that churches utilize drive-in resources for the first part of May and minimize any public gatherings for the first 2 weekends, moving to 50% of building capacity the last two weeks of May. We advocate that churches consider, if they gather in auditoriums, expanding their sanitizing procedures and encouraging the wearing of masks where appropriate

June: We encourage churches to develop procedures to reconvene in public worship and classroom settings at the level of 75% of room capacities with all the appropriate sanitizing and public safety protocols as appropriate, deferring to state, county and local guidelines where necessary.

July: Restoration of 100% of building capacities, dependent upon public health guidelines provided leading up to this time period.The Scriptures tell us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV). A return to worship, teaching, shared service, compassion and generosity is in the heart of the people. We believe together that people of faith across the State of California will experience a rebirth of joy, hope and life with these measured and responsible steps in our state.Respectfully,

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President                
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference            Dr. John Jackson, President
William Jessup University—
Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, which has been recognized by TIME magazine, New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, Charisma Magazine, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News and CNN as America’s largest and most influential Hispanic/Latino Christian organization with more than 40,000 certified member churches in the United States and chapters in Latin America. CNN and FOX News have called Rev. Rodriguez “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.Website | www.nhclc.org    Twitter | @nhclc

Dr. John Jackson: Since becoming President in 2011, Dr. Jackson has led William Jessup University to triple in size and become regionally and nationally ranked by US News & World Report and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Dr. Jackson is a dynamic strategic leader, and communicator and has authored six books on leadership and spiritual formation.  John earned both his Ph.D. and M.A. in Educational Administration and Organizational Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara; M.A. in Theology (Christian Formation and Discipleship) at Fuller Theological Seminary; and a B.A. in Religion (Christian History and Thought) from Chapman University. Websites | www.jessup.eduwww.drjohnjackson.com  Twitter | @drjohnjackson 

Presence Matters. Touch Matters. Connection Matters.

Presence Matters.  Touch Matters.  Connection Matters.

The presence of God changes everything.  Moses said he would not go anywhere without the presence of God and the Psalmist begged God not to remove him from His presence (Exodus 33:15, Psalm 51:11)

Touch matters.  Human beings were made for contact, for connection, for community.  And yes, we were made for causes.

I’m thankful for the marvels of technology and how many people have been able to engage with a worship service and receive encouragement and grace during this time.   I am also convinced it is an inferior substitute for the people of God gathering safely in a physical space to encounter the One who made us and participate in corporate worship and teaching.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has stretched the resources of the world and its public healthcare systems, governments, economies, scientists, families, educators, and faith structures beyond what has been experienced for at least 100 years.  Much of the debate that has begun is being conducted in the midst of grieving and human tragedy.  Loss of life, normalcy, experiences, and hope for the future all appear to be ours with increased regularity.

But, presence matters.  Touch matters.  Our ability to see, touch, and connect with others is not only a visceral matter but a matter of great social consequence.  I am concerned for the spiritual, social, economic, and generational impact of our times.  I find much of the data to be frustrating. Clearly the models that incorporated social distancing were vastly overreaching.  It seems increasingly clear that many more people (by a factor of 10-20-50-80 times) have actually been infected and recovered than is now statistically known.  Clearly the Coronavirus is more contagious than the seasonal flu, but may not be deadlier.  All the same, the lives that have been lost and the way the globe has responded to this pandemic may have effects long beyond the presence of the physical disease.

So, as I write in CA today, all the data appears to point to the fact that we have been almost miraculously spared from the worst projections.  Yes, I recognize there are fears of a more virulent resurgence in the Fall/Winter of 2020/2021.  But, I am deeply concerned for the spiritual, social and mental health consequences of our lockdown procedures.  I strongly believe we have to get people back to gathering in community, back to work, and undergirding our health care and manufacturing systems.

I wrote some time ago that I believed that 4 words would define this time:  Reveal-Reset-Reentry-Revival (or Reformation).  Today, I remain convinced that part of what has been revealed is that we are increasingly vulnerable in our health care and manufacturing systems.  We also know how much the presence of God, our connection with one another, and the importance of shared experiences are for our culture and our future.  So, I’ll be joining with others soon to share a plan to restore worship gatherings and remain sensitive to public health concerns.  We can and must protect individual and corporate freedoms while we fight this disease.  Presence matters.  Touch matters.

Timely Words for Leaders: Reveal, Reset, Reentry, Revival

Full disclosure here.  Ever since the COVID-19 crisis has been brewing, I have been praying not just to “flatten the curve” but for the Strong Name of Jesus to #breakthecurve.  I believe the curve and the coronavirus will be defeated and that this is the Church and Christian ministries finest hour.  And, that also has a specific application for Christ centered higher education.  I have been “living” in Psalm 91, Matthew 6:33, Ephesians 6:10-20, and John 10:10 from the beginning of March, 2020.

It is true that we are in the middle of a storm.  But, living in the midst of a storm is not how we plan and conduct our lives.  Living in the storm means that we also recognize that there is a life after the storm.  Leaders traffic in hope.  Because of that, the words we say and the visions we project are magnified during a crisis.  While we all are grappling with the very real circumstances of a storm of death and disease, I also believe God is calling Christian leaders to boldly shape our churches and institutions for His glory so that both IN the storm and AFTER the storm, we are demonstrating the power of life in Christ to a world watching and desperately needing Him.

I think at least 4 major things, captured by 4 words, are happening in our nation right now in the midst of the crisis that provide a real opportunity for growth and learning.  Those “4 Timely Words” matter now more than ever.

REVEALED.  God is in the revealing business.  I am not saying that He caused the coronavirus.  I am saying that He is using COVID-19 to experience, in real time, the realities of our families, our churches, our organizations, our economies, and our nations and world.  What is God teaching you and your teams right now.  What is being revealed now that you did not know or listen to just 3 short months ago?  What an opportunity we have!  That leads us to word #2.

RESET.  In light of what we are experiencing, every business is a start-up now.  Every family gets a “do-over”.  Every organization, church, government gets a “real time” tape of its relative strengths and weaknesses.  We are in a storm, no doubt.  But, we do not plan the rest of our lives based on living in a storm.  What are we learning now that simply must be reset in the future? 

What will you personally, and what will your school organizationally RESET in the days ahead?  I’ll write more on this later, but from the beginning I had our teams begin to think in 14 day/60 day/long term categories.  We already have had many things revealed that we want to change and we want to reset them in the future, but to be frank we still are grappling with many unknowns.  But, I know there are more to come.  I am trying to be ready.  Which leads me to word #3.

REENTRY.  My friend Kris gave me this word.  He is a great teacher and leader and as soon as he said it, I knew it was true!  As I write this, I have no idea how long we will be in the storm of this crisis or how great the storm damage will be.  But what I do know is this:  We have seen the future in glimpses and have no idea what it will actually look like.  There, I said it.  There are no guarantees about today, tomorrow, or next week or month (and there never have been!).   And now, to word #4

REVIVAL.  I have longed for days of revival to return to America and the world.  I’m convinced that the Father longs to have us, His children, running to His arms.  I’m convinced that having no other option but Him is a good thing. I’ve been reminding our campus community that we partner with the Father, not with fear.  Could it be that a great spiritual awakening would come to the church in this, a storm filled hour?  I say YES!  I believe that unlike 911, when church attendance across the country returned to “normal” a short time after the event, this time it could be different.  What will that take?  I think it takes us being willing to hear what God is saying in the midst of all this.  Are we willing to humble ourselves before Him, repent of our wicked ways, and call out to Him? 

I know we are in a storm.  But, I know who calms the storm.  I do NOT know the future of Christ centered higher education in terms of the various forms of it.  But what I DO know is the ONE who holds the future, holds our institutions, and holds us as leaders.  These are our greatest days and your institution needs you to lead with clarity, hope, joy, love, compassion and wisdom IN and AFTER the storm has passed.  Lead well!

Easter 2020: We are people on the Other Side of the Tomb

Holy Week that first century must have seemed like just another week under Roman occupation.  Yet another insurrectionist had been tried and crucified at Roman hands; this one at the urging of the Jewish religious leaders.  Everything, even in the midst of pain and loss, must have seemed normal. Even the body laying in the tomb must have seemed tragic, common, and normal.

This is an unusual Holy week.  Everyone in our world, nation, and state knows that everything is not normal.  Everything is different today. COVID-19 has literally ground the gears of our economy to a halt.  It would be easy to live in pain, despair, and sorrow during Easter 2020.

But God!!!  Today, we live on the other side of the tomb!  We know that Jesus did not stay in the tomb, He rose from the dead.  Around the world in just over 3 short days, people will say to one another, CHRIST IS RISEN!  HE IS RISEN INDEED!  

For Jesus followers, this is our time; we were made for this moment!  We are moving together in hope! This Sunday, I urge you to celebrate His goodness and the fulfillment of His promise.  Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for YOU. Sin is defeated, hope rises from despair and life comes from death. Have a glorious Easter 2020!  

I pray that you fully enter into His rest and His promises this weekend.  We are experiencing so much of God’s favor and I am clear that it is in part because of how you are serving together in Him.  We live on the other side of the tomb…and He is giving us His power every day through His Spirit. Join me in embracing the future that is now here!

Helping Your Church to Grow:  Specific Leadership Barriers

Previous articles have examined structural and general leadership barriers to church growth.  In this article, we want to examine some specific barriers for church growth at different sizes.  Carl George & Warren Bird wrote the classic book on this topic, “How to Break Growth Barriers” (Baker House, 1993) and much of the material below is adapted from that book.  

In excess of 85% of all churches in America are under 200 in weekly church attendance.  Therefore, our last article devoted time to general leadership topics and some specific concerns at the 200 barrier.  Here, in this article, we provide some direction for those facing the very significant barriers at the next 3 size plateaus.  The resources below are not exhaustive, but should provide some helpful illustrative guidance should your church be facing these specific growth barriers.

200-400 persons in worship attendance

  • Barrier of Self-identity

Churches between 200 and 400 in weekend attendance struggle more with identity than any other barrier.  “Who are we now?” and “What were we then?” are typical questions that are continually asked.  This is true because churches that have grown past 200 and are trying to grow past 400 are always facing primarily four different crises:

  1. Leadership Crisis: A leader of a church this size must have the freedom to try new things and experiment with different ways to bring people in.  Effectively communicating the evangelism mandate is also something a leader must live and breathe at this level.
  2. Service Crisis: Pastors which lead in this category of church size are often facing a multiple-service dilemma, and how to double the service times and double workers in and around services also (e.g. children’s ministry workers, ushers, etc.).  For a church to move from one service to two requires major shift in attitudes and priorities.
  3. Power Crisis: People in churches that desire to move past 400 must move past the tendency to cling to power and begin to release power so the lay leaders have the authority to make some of the decisions which impact their ministries.
  4. Change crisis: At this level the pastor has to move from the “pastor as chaplain” model to the “pastor as manager” model and begin to made authoritative changes that bring about change.

400-700 persons in worship attendance

  • Barrier of Delegation

Churches that have between 400 and 700 in attendance are known as “awkward size churches.”  They are too big to be small and too small to be big.  Much like a medium-size grocery store, people in these churches do not know everyone’s name, but there is still a struggle to lead the organization instead of manage all that goes on there.

The key word for this barrier is delegation, and the key principle is structure.  The pastor must become a leader and focus time and energy on leading leaders (who in turn lead other leaders).  Bill Eason said it well when he said, “Sacred cows make great hamburger.”  Church leadership must be willing to kill some sacred cows and organize ministry differently in order to break that 700 barrier.

The 200 barrier presents the key leadership with a barrier of heart (do we have a vision to reach unchurched people?).  The 400 barrier presents a barrier of hand.  Can we do ministry differently in order to reach more people?  Ministry at the 400 barrier requires a pastor to raise up key team members who direct specific program ministries.  Creating multiple program opportunities for people to connect in relationships and serve in ministry is key to breaking through this barrier.  Equipping key leaders for ministry and delegating power and authority to them requires the church to operate without the barriers of bureaucracy that so often inhibit churches at smaller sizes.   

700-1500 persons in weekend worship attendance

  • Barrier of Evaluation

Churches facing growth plateaus in this size category are facing an evaluative crisis and must ask the tough questions (and find answers) in order to become a mega-church.  This is a particularly difficult barrier to break through, probably the hardest.  The following are the questions leaders must ask to move to the next level of growth:

  1. Do we expect that every human being can and should become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ?   
  2. Are we intentional about doing all that we do in light of our size and our community environment?
  3. Are we relevant as we present the gospel?  Are we addressing the longing that people have to feel understood, to understand, to belong to something, and to find hope?
  4. Are we high quality in what we present through teaching, worship, and training?
  5. Do we offer a broad range of attractive choices in a variety of areas?
  6. Do we trust our staff and lay leaders?
  7. Do we ask, “Was that a good decision?” instead of asking who made the decision?
  8. Do we operate from an abundance model in which “resource demands” are met by challenging people to find creative solutions?
  • Barrier of Polity

Churches breaking through this barrier must change the way they organize and carry out leadership at the board level.  Boards of churches who are just arriving at this level tend to manage committees which coordinate volunteers.  They also tend to protect physical assets of the church and possess status as non-clergy members.

More helpfully, a growing mega church board will release the ministry to the staff (paid and volunteer) leaders of the ministry, who in turn lead growing teams of lay ministers.  The governing board of the church is largely responsible for establishing a climate of trust, authenticity, and support for the vision of the ministry.  They help to govern the life of the body in such a way as to make their primary focus the issue of “health” and not “mechanics”.

  • Barrier of Team

Change is needed in the staffing areas of large churches is the church is to break through this size barrier.  There are several transitions that the staff must make to move to the next level.  The staff must move:

  • From provider to arranger of service
  • From player to coach
  • From solo star to team leader
  • From privilege to accountability
  • From Area specialist to Age-Division generalist
  • From personal ministry to delegation
  • From committee appraisal (faithfulness) to results (fruitfulness)

Furthermore, it is the staff role to do the following:

  • Communicate mission, vision and values
  • Manage the church’s systems
  • Lead problem solving
  • Build relationships
  • Create new opportunities for ministry
  • Leadership Development
  • Discipleship
  • Perceive the membership in terms of lay-led teams
  • Train leaders in three areas:  Spiritual and Relational Vitality, Core Competencies and Change Management
  • Have a clear method and curriculum for teaching leadership

The challenges for this level of church are particularly onerous given that multiple issues can easily present themselves at any given time.  Fortunately, in the latter part of the 20th century and the first part of the 21st century, God has given us a number of healthy mega church models which we can now both celebrate and observe after one or more decades of ministry.  Utilizing other models for ministry as benchmarks, growing churches clarify their vision and focus their future in concert with God’s hand upon their ministry.  Adapting the principles you see in another mega church ministry for ministry for your context is the challenge of leadership.

Breaking growth barriers at all levels does not depend on the mechanics of ministry.  Ultimately the direction of a ministry rests completely in the hands of the Holy Spirit who calls, shapes, and gifts the members of the team.  It is my prayer that your journey with God will result in the breaking of every barrier to growth that God enables you to see and to challenge.  I hear the walls falling down even now! My book, “God Size Your Church” can be purchased here: https://leadershipbooks.store/products/god-size-your-church-maximizing-your-impact

Grip-Grasp-Gifts:  Keys to Life-Changing Leadership

I wrote this article several years ago when I was pastoring a church plant in NV that was a miracle experience:

Lasting life change is what spiritual leadership is all about.  Pastors and Christian business people often want to be involved in life change and yet feel frustrated at knowing how to establish a church ministry climate where leadership and evangelism passion can flourish.  These last seven years, I’ve had the privilege to lead such a place, and I think that God has taught us some key principles and practical questions to help develop my own leadership in these matters.  After publishing Pastorpreneur (available at www.pastorpreneur.com, online at Amazon or other retailers, or through your local Christian bookstore), many pastors and Christian business people alike have asked me, “What does it take to think like a Pastorpreneur?”  Here are the 3 steps necessary to think like a Pastorpreneur…..

  1. Grip God’s calling on your life.  This is a key step where you drill down deep and ask the fundamental life question (which I think you ask at MANY times in your life), “God…what did you make me to do?  What is the purpose of my life and how should I use my life to bring glory to you?”.
  2. Grasp the needs of your community.  This is really the “missionary” question.  Robert Schuller says “Find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it….if you do, you will never lack opportunity to impact people’s lives for God”.  What are the needs and opportunities for impact that exist in your community?  How can you reach people for the glory of God?
  3. Mobilize the Gifts of your team.  This is the team leadership question.  What are the resources you have to meet the needs of the community?  What creative strategies can you unleash to pull from your team their highest and best for the sake of impacting others for God?

If you are a Pastor, this thinking process should be bathed in prayer, shared with key leaders and become a fundamental part of your heart preparation for Pastorpreneur ministry.  If you are a Business leader, the process is much the same and will form the template for your strategic plan to leverage your business acumen into a Kingdom tool that God can use for His glory!

Let’s unpack each of those 3 principles and practices:

Grip God’s Calling on Your Life

This is the most important step in the process God’s Calling on Your Life”.  Gripping God’s call on your life is equally important as a business person and as a pastor.  Here are some essential thoughts to help grip God’s calling on your life…

1) Following God’s promise means you are partnering with the God of the universe to fulfill HIS purposes.  As Rick Warren says in the first line of Purpose Driven Life, “It is not about you”.  Gripping God’s calling means you start by recognizing that you are submitting your life to the care and calling of the creator of the universe!

2) Author Os Guinness says that the calling of God is not just for pastors. “Calling,” wrote Guinness, “is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.” (Os Guinness, The Call, (Word Publishing, Nashville, 1998, p. 4.).  Business Leaders and Pastors alike are called by God for Kingdom work!

3) Responding to God’s calling is an antidote to constantly trying to “prove yourself”.  Calling anchors your soul in God’s calling will be specific to His character, the passions He implanted in your soul, and the context of your local community

Once God’s calling is clear in your mind and heart you will then be able to pursue the gifts that He has specifically entrusted to you and your team to accomplish His purposes n your local context! Grip His calling on your life and you will become gripped by it!

Grasp the Needs of Your Community

After you have Gripped God’s calling on your life, the next step to thinking like a PastorPreneur is to “Grasp the Needs of Your Community”.  Since Jesus called us to “Love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39), and He told us that our neighbors are those in need, how should we then live?  

Here are some exciting challenges to help develop your Grasp on the Needs of your Community:

  • Robert Schuller says “find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it…and you’ll never lack for ministry opportunity”.  He’s right.  I’ve not found a community yet, in over 25 years of pastoral, denominational, and church planting ministry that was closed to a church that reached OUT to help people
  • Bill Hybels says that it is a tragedy that the average McDonalds owner knows more about our communities than do the Pastors….and all they want to do is sell a burger and fries.  He’s right and I’m convicted about it every time I think about it.
  • You can go to “Anytown USA” and attend Chamber of Commerce meetings, community forums, school gatherings and ask 3 simple questions:  1)  What do you think is the greatest need in our community?,  2) If you were to go to a church, what would you suggest that church focus on in order to meet the needs in our community?, 3) What one factor might make you consider attending church?  When we did this in our community seven years ago, we got HUGE attention from people who were shocked that we were even asking those questions.
  • According to George Barna, about 2/3 of the unchurched people in the United States call themselves Christians!  But, when drilling deeper, their worldview is not at all consistent with Scripture.  How can you reach your community and understand what they believe?
  • Meeting needs in the name of Christ opens the door to community impact.  Christian business leaders and entrepreneurial pastors can transform a community with the power of God through need-meeting and innovative impact strategies.

When we see the needs of the people in our community, our heart should break.  Not just because of the needs, but the reality that so many are seeking to have those needs met outside a relationship with Christ.  We in the church know that the only complete answer to the questions of life is a vital union with Jesus Christ.  PastorPreneurs learn to think like Christ by seeing the needs of people as an opportunity to extend love and grace and open doors to conversation with neighbors who don’t yet know God in a personal way.

Mobilize the Gifts of Your Team

Pastorpreneurs constantly are looking to mobilize, leverage, and maximize the gifts of God’s people for Kingdom Impact.  Christian Business Leaders and Entrepreneurial Pastors alike are aware that God’s calling and their Community’s needs require that the gifts that God has entrusted to the community of faith be identified and utilized for Kingdom Impact.  Many pastorpreneurs learn to think “outside the box” when they recognize the unique gifts that God has given to them.

In our own local community, the expressed needs of people relate to wholesome activities for children/youth and a way to connect faith and recreation together.  Though our church has only been around for 6 years, we are seeing the start of some exciting things:

  • A martial arts program where 50% of the participants don’t attend our church; the ministry leader has wanted to launch such a program for 10 years but couldn’t find the right setting
  • A dance ministry led by a woman who has had her life transformed by God’s grace and now uses her skills to the glory of God
  • A sports ministry led by a former pro football player that is just now starting to see tremendous synergy in our local community by connecting children/youth and families in positive recreational environments
  • A recovery ministry that has become an “Umbrella of Safety” for people in our community
  • A marketing ministry that creatively communicates the life changing message of God’s love using contemporary media

These are just 5 of the more than 30 ministries that exist in our seven year old church.  NONE of these ministries would or perhaps even should exist in our church EXCEPT that God entrusted specific gifts to His people and they want in the game!  One of the greatest joys of a PastorPreneur is to identify your gifts, help others identify their gifts, and then mobilize and release people for Kingdom Impact!  How many spiritual gifts are laying around unopened in your life or in the lives of those you lead?

Your life was made to make a difference.  God wants your leadership to facilitate lasting life change for His kingdom glory.  Think different, behave different, and watch the God of heaven and earth use you for His purposes here on earth!

“Created to Create the Future”

I’m a leadership guy so I’m always looking ahead to the future.  Dr. John Richardson said when it came to the future; there were 3 types of people:

“Those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened”.  

In a world as fast changing as ours, it is tempting to wonder, “What happened?” or merely be a bystander on the road simply “letting it happen”.   But I believe that people of faith actually have a mandate to create the future because of their hope in God.  I believe that people of faith, and particularly followers of Jesus, are called to carry hope in the world and help to create a God-honoring future for their world.  

People of faith are believers in the future.  In the midst of present reality, people of faith are by definition those who believe in “things we hope for yet have not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).   Because of our hope in the future, we lean in when others lean away.   The early Christians in plague stricken Rome were those who stayed when others fled, those who rescued the children left on the garbage heaps of the community.  The life and safety personnel at 9-11 who ran up the stairs when everyone else was running down were a testament to this greater hope.  Belief in the power of God to change a heart, a home, an organization and a culture is the core conviction of people of faith. Hope is so central to leadership; I have long believed that a defining role of leaders is that they traffic in hope.

Our belief in the future also engenders a creative capacity within the faith community. The community is creative as an expression of hope in the future and the faith to see beauty in the midst of pain.  God created the first human beings, and each successive generation, with unique and redemptive potential so that the world might see His love and grace.   Sir Ken Robinson does a glorious work in lifting up the creative capacities of children in his TED talk (delivered in 2006, now having been seen by over 33 million people!  http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity) Churches, schools, hospitals, and all social service organizations began when people of faith determined to create a future full of compassion and support.

Ray Johnston, personal friend, great pastor and author of the book Hope Quotient, says, “Nobody ever gets a dream without hope. I know of many leaders around the world, some blessed with great resources and others who have almost nothing, which have made major impacts on their communities. They all have the one thing that nobody can do without—hope.”(http://hopequotient.com/blog/four-things-hope-can-part-3-hope-sets-free-dream/#more-111).   

There are certainly areas of contemporary American society that are cause for great despair (racial injustice, economic and educational disparities, global hotspots of terrorism and conflict just to name a few), but none of those despair magnets can overcome the resolute capacity of people of faith to hope for the future and create new life giving environments.  I’m praying and advocating for leaders of faith to keep on hoping in the future and creating a world both worth living and sacrificing for.

Representing Jesus in Classrooms

The mission statement of Jessup University is:  “we partner with the church to educate transformational leaders for the glory of God”.  That mission is at the foundation and the heartbeat of all we do here at Jessup.  For some, the idea of “transformational leadership” is limited to the church.  I understand that frame of reference.  I was born and raised in the church, I have served the Lord in and through the church my entire life, and I have a deep love for the people of God gathered in worship, teaching, and service.  BUT, I think we often have a limited and constraining view of the church.  If we are not careful, we tend to think only of the church gathered.  But the truth is, the church is not constrained to be only when we gather, in fact we are compelled to be the church assembled in the marketplaces of life as well.  In fact, the Kingdom of God contains all of the church, but we limit the Kingdom when we only think of the church as a gathering for worship and teaching.

Matthew 5:13-16 tells us that we are “salt and light” and that we should live in such a way that people see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.  Some have misinterpreted those words of Jesus to think that good works save us.  Ephesians 2:8-10 gives us clarity here:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Salvation is a free gift of God and our good works-which God has actually prepared for us to do-are a response to His love and forgiveness operating in our lives.  We were made to serve Him and when we do, we have found our purpose and joy in His presence, serving from the overflow of that relationship.  

I am convinced that God has called many people to be teachers and leaders in the classrooms and campuses of our state and nation.  Rather than being isolated from the world and remaining in our churches, I think we gather for worship, and then many of us will be called to reach and serve the precious children of our state by teaching and leading in public, private, and home classrooms.  This is mission, and Jessup is going after it!  Women and men at Jessup are shining the light of His presence by their love, grace, goodness, and excellence in classrooms and on campuses.

 While I see many manifestations of mission fulfillment at Jessup and throughout Northern California and Nevada, perhaps none is so readily evident as in the work of our School of Education when we prepare men and women to serve the Lord in public, private,and homeschool settings.  As you will read throughout this journal, Jessup grads are sought after in the form of our partnership with more than 600 schools in our region.

As you read stories of character, academic excellence, sacrifice, and missional passion for serving and reaching the children of our state, I want to thank you for your prayers.  Please pray for our staff and faculty in the School of Education, pray for our students, and pray for the myriad of school administrators, teachers, and staff that we work with every day so that Jesus may be made known as we live for His glory.

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