#WeArePVC – Week 1

Family Life Ministry Highlight

Summer is an incredibly busy time for our Family Life team at Palm Valley Church. This team consists of all the ministry we do from birth to high school students. The summer is full of camps for each age group, fun activities, and mission trips. All of this is in addition to the weekend services designed specifically for each age group that incorporate music, drama, teaching, and small group activities. Countless hours are put in by our dedicated full- and part-time ministry staff as well as the real heroes, the PVC members who serve in these areas using their God-given gifts and abilities.

In the past, we would take time after each major event and spend a few minutes in service highlighting what God did through our summer camp and mission trip experiences. This year we decided to kick off our #WeArePVC series with an entire weekend highlighting all the efforts. It was amazing! There were students leading worship and sharing their personal testimonies about their mission trips. We saw video highlights of camps. There was even a quick peak at some of the amazing actors we have that put together incredible dramas for our PVC Kids camp. If you missed last weekend, you can check out the service online here.

Then I took a few minutes to share why we put in all this effort. For me, it goes back to a verse in the book of Judges.

Judges 2:10

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.

What an incredibly tragic statement! Who was this generation that failed to prepare the next one? Who was this generation that dropped the ball? One could argue, it was one of Israel’s greatest generations, it was Joshua’s. This was the generation that saw God part the Jordan River and then entered into the Promised Land. They saw God fight their battles as cities like Jericho had its walls fall down at the sounds of the shouts and trumpets. When this generation were children, they saw God lead them through the desert from slavery by his physical presence in a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire at night. God fed them for forty years in the desert by providing manna from heaven. This generation experienced God’s presence, faithfulness and power on a daily basis—yet their kids grew up and didn’t acknowledge the Lord.

As a father and pastor, I read this passage and it inspired me to be intentional with the next generation. I want to put intense efforts into reaching, teaching, inspiring, equipping and empowering the next generation to lead the church.

There is some discouraging news, we are losing the fight.

Currently in the United States we have a trend where each successive generation is rejecting God at a higher rate.

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This is why we put so much effort into our Family Life Ministry. It takes intentionality to change a trend like this.

  • Intentionality in prayer – we cannot do this without God.
  • Intentionality is resources – we cannot do this without financial investments.
  • Intentionality in effort – we cannot do this without gifted members serving.

I am not a doomsdayer. I have hope. My hope is in the fact that as much as I love the next generation, God loves them even more!

Palm Valley Church is a place where children and students matter!

The Missions Question

The Missions Question

When I get asked about the work Palm Valley Church does in Cote d’Ivoire, Mexico, and Haiti, it usually goes something like this:

Why would you travel long distances to serve people when there are problems right here in our own community? Shouldn’t we fix homelessness (replace with: addiction, orphans, foster care, etc.) here before we help others?

I understand this question. I mean, it makes logical sense. Work to fix problems in the areas that are the closest to us, then travel out from there. The problem with this way of thinking is that it is contrary to Jesus’ instructions. Check out the Great Commission given to the disciples and to all of us.

Acts 1:8 (NASB)

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

The wording of this passage is very intentional. The geographical progression uses the word AND not THEN. The strategy was not meant to be progressive in the sense that when one location was completed, the next was to begin. There is a tension in the belief that we are supposed to be engaged in all three.

There is also the fact that if one area had to be completed before moving on to the next, we would never go beyond our own communities. Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you.” Therefore, we will never completely solve the problem.

So how do we manage the tension of AND?

Honestly, most of our resources at Palm Valley Church are dedicated to our own community. In fact, our most successful evangelistic program receives more financial support, staffing support and volunteer support than anything else we do. It is so successful, that every weekend people from our community come to Christ. Every year, hundreds of people from our community are baptized. What is the program? What is this amazing evangelistic tool? It’s our weekend worship service.

At Palm Valley Church, our weekend worship service is designed so that people who are far from God and those who are invited to attend will be welcomed and cared for. Every weekend, we communicate with them in a language they can understand. We teach principles from scripture that can be applied immediately to their lives. And we provide an opportunity for them to hear and respond to the Gospel message. Our members personally inviting their friends and neighbors to church is our most effective tool in reaching our community.

We also use resources, both financial and manpower, to meet the physical needs of our communities. Our work in the community over the past three years has impacted almost 15,000 children and families. Our partnerships with local government, schools, and non-profit organizations answer the call of Jesus to help “the least of these.” Palm Valley Church members have also made a significant impact in the local foster care crisis as many families have opened their homes and lives to children in need.

We do all of this AND go to the “remotest parts of the earth.”

The financial resources are a fraction of what we use here, and the hours spent are a fraction of what is given here. But we are called to do BOTH.

We do it with joy.

We do it with sacrifice.

We do it because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to go.

 

Addition by Subtraction: Part 3 of 3

Developing the Plan

How do you communicate changes in a way that values everyone involved?

Due to the types of changes we were making, we believed face-to-face interaction was imperative. After all, Palm Valley Church is a place where people matter.

What was needed was a rolling communication plan. First, we needed to speak with the individual members of our team who were being directly affected by either the elimination of their role or a major reassignment. Then, we needed to work through the tiers of leadership. Our hope was that we would minimize the possibility that information about changes would reach someone before we had the opportunity to speak with them in person.

Here is where things got tricky. November 6was the date of our first meeting as a Strategic Team. It was in this meeting that the 2-week timeline was developed.

In order for Glendale’s last public service to be held before the launch of our Christmas push, November 18, I needed to be at the Glendale Campus on November 11 to deliver the news in person.

This was the plan we developed:

November 6 — Communicate changes to campus pastors, staff members whose roles were dramatically changing (i.e. changing campuses) or who were being released. Keep Trustee team in the loop on the new timeline.

November 7 — Announce changes to the entire staff in an all staff meeting.

November 8 — Call together all the leaders, staff and volunteers, from all campuses to communicate the changes to them.

November 11 — I would be at the Glendale Campus in person to deliver the news about the campus closure. We would also make the announcement at the Buckeye Campus about major staffing changes, including the new campus pastor. Nothing would be said at the Goodyear Campus during this weekend to prevent information from spreading prematurely in Glendale and Buckeye before their services on Sunday morning.

November 6thwas a whirlwind of a day. Tough decisions. Tough conversations.

What was so amazing to me was to see God’s hand in it all. The unity in the team was amazing. We were able to work quickly and effectively through the objectives. All key decision makers were in the room and God worked through the collective wisdom and experience He had given everyone.

Was this timeline too short?

That’s a tough one. If we had more time, we certainly would have used it, I do know that. But what would we have used it for? More deliberation? More discussion? At the end of the day, there was no preparation for the tough conversations we were going to have. Staff members and the church body already new finances were tight and that changes would have to be made without a rebound. The specific conversations we had to have would be just as difficult this week as they would have been next week or next month if we drug the process out. There are no preparatory conversations for the ones we were having besides the groundwork that had already been laid.

Here is what I learned from this situation:

Once the vision is set, plans can be made fairly quickly. I had to be crystal clear with the Strategic Team about the new model and our specific objectives. Giving them this direction gave us some very clear running lanes to make quick, thoughtful and informed decisions.

Having the right people in the room is key. For visionary decisions, I think a smaller group is more effective. For strategic and tactical decisions, having all the stake holders in the room speeds up the process—if the vision is clear.

Diversity is a blessing. More people in one room who are all the same is not helpful. That could give a false sense of feedback and input. If everyone in the room is of the same sex, race, and comes from the same background, you are not necessarily getting the benefit of collective wisdom. You are just getting multiple voices saying the same thing. Unfortunately, it’s hard to understand this until you’ve experienced it. We like to trick ourselves into believing that our teams are different: “We aren’t technically diverse, but we think diverse.”As leaders, we constantly surround ourselves and attract others who are just like us. If you want to lead a diverse church that matches your community, intentionally surround yourself with leaders who represent the body. If there is a level of leadership at which, above that line, everyone is the same, there is a problem. The diversity of your church will never be greater than the diversity of your highest levelof leadership.

Unexpected Outcomes

We made these decisions for the future growth of the church. I believe God has called us—and every church—to reach the community they are in with the life-transforming message of the Gospel. I believed that if I made these changes, we would have a greater impact in the future. What I didn’t realize was how quickly some of the changes came.

The first change was in the area of giving.

As church leaders, we preach stewardship all the time. We are not owners, but managers of God’s resources. The decisions that were made to close a campus, reduce and redeploy staff, and change our strategy were all stewardship decisions. How could we best use the resources God has given us?

We talk this way.

We operate behind the scenes this way.

But when we laid these values out on the front lines for all to see, I didn’t realize what an impact it would have on the body. I thought people would pull back. Instead, they leaned in.

People want to invest their finances, their time, and their relational capital in organizations they trust. And trust doesn’t come from being perfect. It comes from being authentic.

We admitted mistakes.

We took corrective action.

We told people why.

Palm Valley Church has been in existence for over 18 years. Since the announcement of all these changes, we have received our four largest single gifts in the history of the church. The budget gap was reduced to $30,000 by the end of the year from a high point of $300,000. This was due to giving, the financial cuts are for the 2019 budget.

The second change was in the area of attendance.

One month later our Christmas attendance was 4% larger than the previous year. As I write this at the beginning of June, we are up 10% in attendance from last year.

Addition by subtraction.

Sometimes this phrase is used relationally. A team gets better by the removal of a toxic teammate. This is NOT what I am referring to here. What I am referring to here is ENERGY.

When we focused our energy and efforts on fewer things, we became more effective. We now operate with one less physical location but reach more people than we did before. By taking the resources we had and positioning them where they can create the greatest impact, we saw a resurgence.

Redeploying staff members into new roles

Re-budgeting finances

Redirecting my personal efforts and energy

God worked in and through the leaders, volunteers and members of Palm Valley Church to initiate an incredible turn around.

God is doing some amazing things. God-sized things.

I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

The Fear of Missing out

This weekend we wrapped up our series on the weight of fear by talking about the fear of missing out (FOMO).  At first glance this doesn’t seem to be incredibly impactful.  I mean what’s the worst that could happen?

Let’s try that though experiment.  Imagine the worst possible outcome from a missed opportunity….  Got it?

OK, now make it twice as bad.

I have no idea what the scenario going on inside your head is right now, but what I do know is that the result, regardless of how terrible it is,  can’t compare to impact FOMO had in this passage of scripture.

Genesis 3:1-6

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. 7 At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Adam and Eve believed that God was holding something back from them. There was something out there better than what they were currently experiencing.  They were missing out!

Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God’s one rule cost them EVERYTHING.

It cost them….Their home.

Their purpose

Their relationship with God

The other fears we have walked through in this series had costs associated with them.

The fear of failure can keep us from trying new things and opportunities.

The fear of bad things happening can cause us to insulate and isolate    ourselves.

The fear of inadequacy can keep us from understanding our God given potential and using it.

What these all have in common is that they hold us back.  This is bad.  Not good.

However, FOMO is much more dangerous because doesn’t hold us back…it propels us forward.  It launches us out in directions that can cost us everything.

The risky financial decision made because the window of opportunity is closing, and you don’t want to miss out on what everyone else is benefiting from.

The dating relationship has red flags all over the place, but you move forward because you are afraid you will never find anyone else and don’t want to spend your life alone.

The risky health decisions made for quick results because time is running out.

The business decision that you know is wrong but is a “standard practice” that everyone else uses to get ahead.

Jesus addresses this very issue.

Matthew 6:31-33

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Our focus is this passage rightly goes to the action step…’seek the Kingdom of God.’ But for the purpose of FOMO, lets pause on the phrase…’your heavenly Father already knows.’

God is all knowing.

We are afraid we are going to miss out.

God knows exactly what we need.  He knows the past, present and future.  He knows the big picture and the small details.  He knows how much food is in your house and exactly how long it will last. He knows your bank account balance and exactly how far your car can get on the gas that’s in its tank.  He knows your employer’s financial situation.  He knows how the business is going to go.  God knows everything.

It is from His character…who is He, ALL KNOWING, that He tells us not to worry.

Check out the rest of ‘The Weight of Fear’ series online at: https://www.palmvalley.org/messages/weight-of-fear

The Weight of Fear

This has been such a fun series to teach so far!

I have been teaching through the different fears in life that weigh us down, paralyze us, and keep us from all that God has for us.

The fear of failure.

The fear of bad things happening.

The fear of inadequacy.

The fear of missing out.

We started the series off by looking at the account of Jesus calling out Peter to join Him in walking on water.

Matthew 14:28-33

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Peter’s problem was that he took his eyes off of Jesus.  He began to focus on the waves and wind and became terrified.  Fear literally weighed him down and he began to sink.

This gives us the main theme for the series: “We don’t fix fear by fixing ourselves…we fix our eyes on God.”

This series is not about developing a three-step process to overcoming fears or developing coping skills to work through lives tough moments.  There are many Biblical examples and principles available to handle fear in this way.  However, I was led to fix our eyes on God.

In reality, this is a series about God’s character.

When we fear failure…we look to God’s patience and faithfulness.

When we fear bad things happening…we look to God’s goodness.

When we struggle with the fear of inadequacy…we look to God as our creator.

When we struggle with the fear of missing out…we look to a God who is all knowing and all powerful.

Join us next week as I wrap up the series.  You can catch up on the previous messages or entire services at http://www.palmvalley.org/messages/weight-of-fear

Addition by Subtraction: Part 2 of 3

The bigger the changes, the bigger the team

I had finally broken through my barrier of pride. I had made the decision to make a decision. If no financial progress had been made by the first week of October, we would have to make cuts.

Now, if you think I was just sitting around counting down the weeks, you are mistaken. We had been praying as a trustee team, leadership team and staff for months. I was personally praying more than I ever had. I changed the way I talked about finances in our service, making some corrections I should have made years ago. We were cutting back expenses and pushing back projects. Yet, October came and our deficit was hovering around $300,000.

The financial slide had stopped. God was working through our efforts. But ground was not being made up. We knew that before 2019 began we needed to find a way to cut $300,000 from next year’s budget. That was not going to be easy. Where was the $300,000 going to come from?

There was no $300,000 optional line item on the budget.

There was no $300,000 program.

There was no $300,000 asset we could sell.

This was going to be painful.

The only way to get to that number was to close a campus.

The first question was, do we close just one or both multisite campuses? Do we still believe in the multisite strategy?

This was settled rather quickly. If we closed both campuses, we would be limiting our mission. Even though we had been in decline, our prime service times in Goodyear, our only permanent location, were between 70% and 80% full. This is a natural barrier for new people. If we wanted to continue our mission of reaching our community with the gospel, we couldn’t completely abandon the multisite strategy.

We decided to close one campus.

After that decision, we quickly moved on to determining which campus would be closed.

Over the past few months, our leadership team spent significant time on each of the campuses. Their reports were troubling because both experiences feltgood. Both campuses were executing our multisite strategy with excellence. Yet, both were struggling. This brought up another question; do we have the right multisite model for our church?

There are many different multisite models out there, as you may know. On end of the spectrum, there is a tightly controlled franchise model. Video of the lead pastor is used for the message each week, and all other aspects of the service are done live…but exactly the same across all campuses. Worship teams sing live to the same songs, in the same order. Children’s ministries do the same curriculum and lessons, often with video teaching being shared. This philosophy filters down through all aspects of the church.

At the other end of the spectrum, each campus shares the same vision and culture, but there is freedom in the execution of the programs. The campus pastor will preach their own sermon based on the same topic that is shared across campuses. The worship teams have freedom to tailor their music to the specific culture and preferences of the church body.

Our approach to multisite was solidly on the control end of the spectrum.

The current leadership team worked through this new direction at the end of October. I presented the changes to our trustee team on October 30th. It was a somber, but hope-filled meeting. This was a time full of grieving as well as a time full of faith.

As I wrestled with the complexity of these decisions—closing a campus, changing the model, reducing staff, redeploying staff—I came to the conclusion that I need more voices speaking into this than I currently had.

I am naturally an introvert, so I take time to process things. All these factors led me to keep my teams small. Agile. Flexible. But this was going to be different. I was making decisions that would dramatically affect the livelihood of families. I was shutting down the campus that I stood before the church and cast vision for. I was getting ready to move staff around and redeploy them, breaking apart teams and changing relationships. I was fundamentally changing the way we did church on the weekend. I needed more Godly people around me speaking into this change.

I needed to expand my leadership team.

God has blessed our church with diversity. It was our prayer from before Palm Valley Church was planted that we would be a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church. We have always been above average in this area, but in the last few years God has really changed the makeup of our congregation. This was reflected in our leadership as well. On my executive team, I have five incredible leaders; two are black, two are white, and one Hispanic. If you count me in the mix, you bump up the Hispanic mix by 25%. We are diverse. But I also recognized we were excluding one of the largest populations in our church body, the women. I don’t have time to unpack all my traditional church baggage here. I am not even going to get into the role of pastors and elders and women. I just knew that I had some incredible women leaders on our team and I needed to hear their voice now more than ever. I wanted their perspective, their wisdom. I added two women to the team: our children’s minister and our finance director.

I also needed all key stakeholders in the room as we were making these massive changes. I wanted to include a voice from each of our primary ministry areas. So I expanded the team from six to nine.

I didn’t know how it was going to work. I didn’t know if this large of a team would be unmanageable. So I put a timeframe on it and gave it a new name. This was now my Strategic Team and it would exist in this format for six months as we make these changes and lead through the transition.

It would be the task of this team to accomplish four major objectives:

  1. Close down our Glendale Campus.
  2. Implement a new multisite strategy.
  3. Reduce staffing and operation costs by $300,000 annually.
  4. Re-deploy the staff in new roles based on gifting of the individual and needs of the church.

These objectives could not be accomplished sequentially. They all had to happen at once. And guess what? They all had to happen quickly.

This could not have happened with the previous makeup of the team. I understand that more voices often lead to more opinions and more problems. However, a focused team, unified around a common goal with an urgent mission, can get through those barriers.

If you have ever made sweeping changes to any organization, you know that there is usually a domino effect to every change. This was so true with the changes we were making.

Each decision we made had several impacts down the line. I can tell you right now that without those additional three voices on the team, I would have missed some of these impacts and caused unnecessary pain and confusion to staff members, their families and the church body.

I began our first Strategic Team meeting, on November 6th, by laying out where I believed God was leading me with the new strategy for multisite. This was the domino that started it all. I was moving us from the control side of the spectrum and shifting us closer to the autonomous side. Control was not working for us. We have a heart for evangelism and the gift of mercy. We reach hurting people far from God. We are big into recovery ministry. We routinely deal in the mess of everyday life and do not require people to clean up their act before they walk through our doors. Our motto is that Palm Valley Church is a place where people matter. There was a definite disconnect for us between what we believed about doing ministry and having video teaching 90% of the time on our Buckeye and Glendale campuses. Not only could we feel the tension, but so could our people who were struggling to invite their friends, and the community at large.

The biggest change was to move from 10% live teaching to around 80% live teaching. We gave the worship team more freedom to modify the worship set, while still keeping the Palm Valley feel and vision for worship.

This is where the dominos began to fall.

The teams currently in place were strategically chosen for their ability to carry out the old strategy. A new strategy would require new team members.

By the time we were done, most staff members had a new role. We transitioned a large portion of our central staff—those who developed material for multiple campuses—to a campus role. They would continue developing, writing and planning for all campuses, but they would also be responsible for the execution of the plan on a campus as well.

But let’s not get ahead of the story here. All these changes are yet to come. We knew the direction. We settled on the model. We had a skeleton of a structure we were headed towards, but we needed to develop a timeline. Once we determined when to shut down the campus, we would work the timeline back from there.

The campus needed to be closed by the end of the year.

Christmas Eve is not a viable final service for a campus. Traditionally having a lot of first time guests attending Christmas services, that would be a horrible first impression. It would also turn an evening of celebration into mourning. No, it definitely had to be before Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately, we needed to back it up further. Once our Christmas series started, every weekend after that builds towards Christmas Eve. It would be problematic on multiple levels to start the series, knowing there would be no completion.

Within the first two hours of our first meeting we realized what we were up against. The last public service at this campus would need to be on November 18th. We had a lot to do.

When making drastic changes in life, our natural tendency is to push people away, especially ones who might have a different viewpoint. I mean, change is stressful enough already. I didn’t need other opinions making it more difficult.

A career change

A big move

A large purchase

Marriage crisis

Leaving a church

Who do you surround yourself with when making these types of decisions? What’s their track record? What new perspective do they have to offer?

These aren’t just leadership lessons learned along the way. This is a Biblical principle.

Proverbs 12:15

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

 

Yes, it does take a little longer… initially.

Multiple conversations.

More opinions to talk through.

But ultimately, you want to avoid having to go back and make additional changes because you missed something or didn’t anticipate how your change would affect other aspects of your life and the lives of those around you. This saves you countless hours and energy, both physical and emotional.

Coming Soon – Part 3: Communicating Change

Addition by Subtraction – Part 1 of 3

Yes, there is a problem.

Sometimes problems are easy to identify.

The roof is leaking. There is clearly evidence to support the claim because there is water pooling in the middle of the worship center.

Other times the problem is not as easy to identify.

We see the evidence. Giving and attendance are down, but we don’t know why.

This is where it can get dicey—especially if you have several things going on that could be contributing factors. Each one of these comes with an excuse or justification.

Lead pastor transitions take time.

When the church becomes more diverse, some people are going to leave.

Church attendance and involvement are in a decline across the entire country.

Each of these statements was made at one point or another in the year leading up to my declaration that, yes, there is a problem. Each of these statements is true. But none of them led to action. I had to make a declaration and I had to make it quickly.

To paint a clear picture, I am going to use some real numbers here. At its peak in 2015, Palm Valley Church had an average weekend attendance of 4,000 people; that’s adults, students, and kids checked in each week. A pastoral transition and launch of the multisite model took us on a slow slide to a weekend attendance of 3,000 by the middle of 2018 even though we were now at four campuses (three physical locations and the online campus). Up until 2018, however, finances were good. There was not a big dip in giving, so we chalked up the losses to the transition, culture and a changing diversity in the church and eventually it would bounce back.

All of that would change in 2018. Giving now began to drop. Conversations began during our first quarter trustee meeting. This doesn’t look good.

Coming into our trustee meeting at the end of the second quarter the tone changed. This is not good. Our trustees asked a lot of good questions to which I did not have a lot of good answers. Don’t you love those meetings? We knew that if finances didn’t improve, we would have to make some dramatic cuts and changes. The question I had to answer before leaving the meeting was, what would be on the table for cuts should it come to it? My answer was straightforward; multisite, staffing, programs…whatever it takes. In my heart, though, I was determined to not have to change anything.

I was about to learn my first big lesson.

From an attendance point of view, summer was better than average. It actually leveled off, instead of continuing its slow decline. We had an incredible visionary series called We Are PVCthat increased engagement at the church along our vision and mission. We had a single weekend where 100 new volunteers stepped up and committed to serve, but the finances were not changing.

After our fall kickoff, I pulled together my leadership team. I had not been sleeping well. I was stressed out, tired and slowly burning out. We had to do something—there was a problem.

It was the beginning of September and I put it all on the table…for real this time. You see, before, it was my pride that was holding me back.

My pride said, I can fix this.

My pride said, I can save our strategy.

My pride said, I can save every campus.

My pride said, I can save every position on the staff.

With every social media post and announcement of churches launching new campuses and growing, I felt more like a failure. I had made the common mistake that my value as a pastor was attached to the number of campuses I had and the number of people who were attending our services.

The hard part was separating the truth from the lie. Palm Valley Church was not failing. In the past four years, God has worked through the church body:

1,552 salvations

990 baptisms

1,708 members sent on regional and global missions

1,000 pastors trained in Cote d’Ivoire

Over 30,000 children and families assisted through our local outreach

That day, with my leadership team, we made a very simple plan. We would continue to follow the trends, and if no change takes place by the first of October, we would develop a specific plan to make cuts.

At this point you might be thinking, seriously? That’s it? That was the big breakthrough?

Looking back and writing these words down, I will admit it seems rather simplistic. It seems like something that could have, and probably should have been done much earlier. But this was a big deal for me.

For leaders, I believe the most critical moment is when you decide to make a decision. This decision contains the majority of the internal emotional barriers. For me, it was pride. For others, it might be fear. All I know is that these emotions are powerful.

I knew that I had many more decisions to make. None of them would be easy. But none would be made without making this breakthrough first.

I am not sure what decision you are sitting on today.

I am not sure how much more evidence needs to pile up for you to move forward.

I don’t know if it’s fear of the unknown or pride in admitting that you were wrong that is the underlying issue.

All I can tell you is that deciding to decide is the most freeing thing you can do.

My anxiety levels went down. I was sleeping better.  I felt like a weight was off my shoulders…and I hadn’t even done anything yet!

Not only is indecision holding you back, but it’s holding your organization back as well. Your team members see the problem and are hoping and praying you will do something about it.

 

Next Month, Addition by Subtraction, Part 2 – The Bigger the Changes the Bigger the Team.