Thursday, February 14, 2019

5 Ideas to Help Your Church Grow


The year is coasting along, and as I stood back over January, and hit the ground hard in February, I started to ask some difficult questions.

What matters most in 2019? Since I will never have unlimited time, resources or energy, what should I invest my time into in 2019, that would bring the greatest return? What should our church focus on? What matters most? If God were to give me a debrief at the end of 2019, what would I want God to say?

These are the kinds of questions that have been running through my head in January. These are questions every church must ask; lest we run around with a scattergun approach to serving God. Ambiguity and busyness won't grow the church.

And if we're honest, sometimes we equate busyness with effectiveness and tiredness with blessing. Though I think we could do better.

So, I want to give you 5 Ideas to Help Your Church Grow


I sense that it is critical where we choose to fix our attention. There are many distractions. There are many things vying for our time. And in some moments there are many and varied thoughts running through our vulnerable minds. Already, I've heard of people experiencing setbacks, or disappointments and find themselves entering 2019 with a less than ideal start.

That's why, I'm saying churches need to fix their eyes upon Jesus. We can't get distracted in 2019. We must keep our eyes on him. We know in Hebrews chapter 12, that Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith. We must fix our attention upon the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

Please hear me on this. This isn't just a nice, ho-hum, predictable statement from another church pastor. I am convinced that fixing our attention to what really matters and the Christ of our faith is absolutely critical in 2019.

I just think, at times we've lost the art of fixing our eyes and heart upon the Lord. We mean well. We do ministry. We work hard. And some months go by and we've realised we haven't sat in his presence. We haven't discipled like it really mattered. We just got busy. We just lost our way.

We need to fix. Fix our eyes upon Jesus. As Hebrew 12:1-2 puts it, '...since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.'

Start with that. Now, here's another idea to help your church grow in 2019:


We need to open our hearts to new opportunities. You've heard it said, that the message doesn't change, but the mediums in which we share it does. No church looks like the church in Ephesus, or the early church in Corinth. No church looks like a 13th century monastery. No church is even the same from a few years previous.  People come and go. What society thinks is important changes. The societal issues prevalent in your community shifts over time. The technology in which we connect with people rapidly changes. The theological hot potatoes of our day always move and change with the wind. Every generation has a different outlook on life.

You get the point. We need to be open. Open to new things. Open to exploring new ventures. Open to investing money in a different pool. Open to allowing a younger generation to try something different.

We need to be open to living on the edge of missional exploration. Even if that means some do not understand what we are doing, and why we are so passionate about it.

Leaders: You need to be open to giving people an opportunity to try something new. You then need to shut your mouth if it fails. Then you need to be willing to empower them again. And again. And again.

The danger is that we become so close-minded that we miss the very opportunities that God wants to breathe his life into.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says, '“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?'

So, I'm hoping to stay open to what God wants to do in my church this year. I hope you will as well.

Alright, so there are a few more important ideas for churches, that will help them grow in 2019.


Never have I felt this so strong as this year. Clarity seems to be a word ringing in my ears of late. Now maybe God's been trying to speak to me for the last decade about this, I don't know. All I can say is that I sense that clarity of mission, clarity of vision and clarity of goals and expected outcomes will be the difference between growing and declining churches in 2019.

In a previous post on leadership development, I said that failure to set goals will mean you will always be in a perpetual cycle of vagueness. And then guess what? Without clarity, you will reach the end of 2019 and be vague about whether you achieved anything, and you'll simply end the year with a whole lot of vagueness.

As Elvis once said, you'll have a whole lot of vagueness going on.

And this is the truth: What happens with vagueness, stays in vagueness.

I've felt that in the past. I failed to articulate any goals for the church and failed to articulate any goals for my own life, and I arrived at the end of the year in a psychological quandary, wondering whether I had achieved anything of value in the previous year.

I'm intent not to feel like that in 2019. We cannot let our churches feel like that.

So, have your church consider these questions:

What is your mission?
What is your vision?
What are your values?
What are you going to stop doing?
What do you need to start doing?
What do you need to invest your time in most this year?
What goals do you have, and what actionable steps will you take to reach them?

Take a verse like Acts 4:12, 'Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.' Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8) and then was able to articulate clearly what his mission was. He had clarity. And I tell you, clarity will help your church grow.

Clarity is critical. And I'm beginning to be convinced that it is the big difference between healthy churches, stagnant churches and declining churches.


Comparison will kill you. Nearly every church leader has been there on one day or another. Smaller churches compare themselves to bigger churches. Traditional churches compare themselves to emerging churches. Cell group churches compare themselves to other cell group churches. Churches with worship bands compare themselves with other worship bands. Leaders compare their effectiveness to other leaders. And so on, and so on.

The thing is: Every church is different. Every church has a different set of problems to address. Every church has a different living and breathing kind of DNA.

Every single church.

See remember, churches are living and breathing organisms. People. People who journey together. Who try to change the world together. We cannot compare. But we can do one thing:

We can seek to understand the current context in which we minister. We can seek to learn the history of our church (each unique even to the church down the road). We can seek to understand the complexities that exist and discover how to address them. We can celebrate what God is doing, that is always unique to the church in the adjacent suburb.

I am challenged. Instead of spending my mental energy trying to compare how effective or otherwise my church is compared to other denominational success stories, I want to spend my energy understanding my current context.

Who has God called us to reach?
How has God called us to evangelise?
What social issues are the ones we need to invest our time and energy into?
What would good discipleship look like in my context?
How do I develop a passionate, faith-filled, worshipful community amid God's people?

I can't compare my church to yours. It's different. It has unique challenges. I could though help you ask the right questions. I could help you stop so that you can seek to understand your context. That would be key for you and for me.

Ok, so we are nearly there. I want to give you one more important idea to help your church grow in 2019. Here it is:


I want to be honest with you right now. I think when I was younger in ministry, people were projects. I desperately wanted to see the church grow, but people were just numbers.  People were there to be pastorally manipulated to achieve ministry outcomes. Volunteers helping in church ministry were just there to tick the box, so that I felt good that we had 'been successful.'

I feel like in recent years, my heart for people has grown. Relationships are now key for me. This is about people joining together, to make a difference and to do it together in the context of community. People are not means to an end to fulfil a ministry task. Rather, God's people join together to change the world.

We encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
We love each other (John 15:17).
We mutually encourage each other in the faith (Romans 1:12).
We pray for one another (James 5:16).
We carry each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2).

And this my friends are all biblical ideas scattered through the letters of the New Testament.

We do ministry in the context of relationship. We share the journey together.

Would it be helpful for your church to consider the following:

What are we doing to build strong relationships?
What are we doing to connect with each other?
How do we integrate new people into our community of faith?
What avenues do we have for people to find care, discipleship and friendship?
How do we take an inward-focussed church, to be an outward-focussed church?
What relationships will I invest more time into?


These are just some ideas that will help your church to grow in 2019. And if you hadn't noticed, these five ideas spell the word FOCUS. I sense that's going to be incredibly important for the local church in 2019. We need to be a people of focus. So let me recap:

Fix your attention on the Lord.
Open your heart to new opportunities
Clarity will develop as you ask some deeper questions about purpose and direction
Understand the context in which your church does ministry
Share your journey with others as a church community  

If you've been blessed by these ideas on how to help your church grow, please share this blog, via Facebook or Twitter. Or leave a comment. Or if you're subscribed to this blog, send me an email. There is much more to say and I'm keen to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Finding hope when all you see is despair

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Imagine a pineapple.

On the outside, it's prickly.  Spiky.  If you were seeing this pineapple for the first time, you wouldn't think much could come out of it.  You wouldn't think that inside this pineapple is a sweet, juicy taste.

Imagine a coconut.

On the outside, it's hairy. Brown. Rough. If you were seeing this coconut for the first time, you wouldn't think it was edible on the inside. You wouldn't consider making yourself a cup of coconut juice.

See, the message today is about Hope.  It is about finding opportunity amidst opposition.  It's about finding a breakthrough amidst the barriers.  It's about finding faith, when all you can see is a prickly pineapple, or a rough, hairy coconut.

Just take a look at the stories within the Gospels.  How many times do you see the disciples looking at a situation and thinking there is no hope?

In Matthew 14:13-21, we read about the feeding of the five thousand.  Jesus is attending to the crowds of people following Him, healing the sick well into the evening.  The disciples, noticing how late it is, tell Jesus to send the crowds away so that the people can buy food and eat.  To their surprise, Jesus tells the disciples to feed the crowds themselves.  The disciples' focus was not on what God could do in their situation, but on what little they had - five loaves of bread and two fish.  Jesus took the loaves and the fish, and thanking God for what they had, broke the food up, dividing it amongst the entire crowd with 12 whole baskets of food remaining.

The disciples failed to understand the provision of God.

Later in Matthew 15:21-28 we read about a Canaanite woman, whose daughter had become possessed by a demon.  She cried out for mercy and healing from Jesus, but the disciples urged Jesus to send her away.  Jesus told them that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel, and granted the Canaanite woman's request because of her faith.

The disciples failed to understand the compassion of God.

Even further in Matthew 16:21-28, Jesus is explaining to the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the authorities, and that He must be killed and raised to life on the third day.  Peter took Jesus aside and told Him that this should never happen, yet Jesus' response is quite abrupt - "Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns".  Jesus added that whoever wants to be His disciple must deny themselves, that whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for Him will find it.

"What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?"  What we gain in life - objects, status, wealth - will ultimately perish.  The soul is what's important, for that will never perish in Him.

Peter failed to understand the plan of God.

There is Hope for us, and it's related to having the mind of Christ.  1 Corinthians 2:11-16 teaches us that we have been given the Spirit of God; we have the ability to understand God and the gift that He has given us, if we are open to the Spirit.  We can speak in words taught by the Spirit, to explain the truth of the Spirit.  Those who are not open to the Spirit of God consider things that come from the Spirit foolish and incomprehensible, yet those who are can understand because these things are discerned by the Spirit.

Then you can look at situation the way the Spirit of God would. You look at circumstances with faith. We know that, 'Faith is being sure of what you hope for, and certain of what you do not see' (Hebrews 11:1).

You can look at a lack of provision and realise that God can surely cater for all your needs.

You can look at a sickness, and understand by faith that God can bring healing into that illness.

You can look at the plans and purposes of God for your own life, and realise, that even if things are going bad-to-worse for you, God still has a plan to bring hope and a future.

Jesus can provide.  Jesus can deliver, and He can set free.  Jesus knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.

So the next time you look at your circumstances, you can ask God to help you find hope amid the despair.

And hopefully you won't just see a prickly pineapple or a rough, hairy coconut. But you'll see hope. You'll see potential. You'll see an opportunity.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

5 Leadership Development Principles I Wish Every Leader Knew

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Maybe you've taken on new responsibility at work, or began to take on the leadership role of a ministry in the local church. Maybe you've been a seasoned leader for many years. In recent days I've been thinking about important, yet simple leadership development principles that we often miss (especially when we are starting a leadership journey).

I have some really sound advice. Here are 5 leadership development principles I wish every leader knew.

If you're going to be in a leadership position, then you need to act like a leader. Let me explain:

1. Leaders draw others around them
If you are making the transition into an area of responsibility, you have to understand, your job is not to do everything. You job is to build leaders so that together you can achieve the vision in front of you. I have seen too many new leaders, who don't lead. Some leaders run around busy, photocopying, buying things, coordinating activities, and forget the other aspects of leadership: drawing together a team, articulating what goals they want to achieve and focusing on reaching the vision before them.

Stop for a moment, and begin to think like a leader, not simply a busy volunteer. What would you do differently, if you were to lead effectively right now? How can you draw others around you to be more effective as a leader?

2. Set some goals
Take a few moments. Grab a piece of paper and set some goals. If you aim at nothing you'll reach it every time. I've been challenged recently to set SMART goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. You may well be running a business and having a quick speed read of this. Honestly, have you set some goals? Do you know what you seek to achieve in 2019?

Some of my goals in the past, have not always been that realistic. That's why this year, for instance, this blog has a new focus. I have a new goal:

Train and mobilise 100 leaders through this blog by the end of 2019  
This for me is specific. It's measurable (through analytics, feedback on facebook posts, etc). It's achievable and realistic (If I said 1,000 leaders, then to be honest, it wouldn't be as realistic - though possible). Lastly, it's time-bound: by the end of 2019. This is important, I will know whether I have achieved this goal or not, because it's a SMART goal.

Leaders set smart goals.

Stay with me friend. This is important. If you have a vague goal in your head at the start of 2019, you'll only have a vague idea at the end of the year on whether you've reached the vagueness.

Turn a goal like: "Have a great Children's Ministry." to something like, "Build at least 20 young disciples, who choose to follow Jesus by December 31st, 2020."

3.  Leadership and servanthood go hand-in-hand
It's best expressed by Jesus, when he washed the disciples feet (John chapter 13). We see servant leadership epitomised by Jesus. Leaders are willing to go the extra mile. Leaders are willing to stay right til the end. Leaders are willing to serve in whatever capacity is needed to get the job done. Servanthood is a must. It doesn't mean you do everything, because your role is also to empower and equip others to express servanthood alongside you, but leaders have a servant heart and a servant attitude.

4. Have a clear vision of why you're leading
I want to mobilise an army to change the world. I have that stamped upon my heart. It drives me from day to day. It gets me up in the morning. It keeps me awake at night. Leadership is about understanding where you're heading and inspiring others to come with you. As a follower of Jesus and a Salvation Army Officer, my goal is to lead people, ultimately to Jesus.

And so with that in mind, irrespective of leadership position, you can be a leader. You can lead people to the Lord.

So, develop some clarity. Why are you working where you're working? What are you trying to achieve? What's the big why? Why are you doing what you're doing?

Clarity helps you say no to the many demands of leadership. Clarity helps you stay focused on what matters most.

5. Don't let your competency outstrip your character
Keeping your character in check is important. I always come back to the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). Am I expressing unconditional love? Am I joyful? Am I self-controlled? Some people let power corrupt them, and they end up being more competent than they are controlled. They become arrogant and self-seeking. They forget that the ideals of compassion and common-decency got them to where they are in the first place. Most leaders I know, would always choose character over competency, but ideally, a leader has both.

This is naturally one blog post. There's so many more leadership development principles to consider. So I'm interested to hear from you. What leadership development principles do you think are most important?


Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Beginner's Guide to Becoming a Leader

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Welcome friends, thanks for taking time to stop by. I'm writing this today, because I feel like some people need encouragement to step into leadership. Now, I'm not talking about stepping into a leadership position, but rather making a proactive shift in your mind, to one of a leader.

See, you influence things already. You already have leadership influence. If you are parent, whether a good one or not, you are making a difference in the lives of your kids. If you a ministry helper in the local church, you have more influence than what you probably think. If you are a young adult, then you no doubt influence friends around you; you probably even influence your boss.

So I want to pass on a few thoughts on starting out as a leader. I'm calling it The Beginner's Guide to Becoming a Leader.

1. Begin to realise you ARE a leader

When the penny finally drops, you look around and see that you already are a leader. You are already making a difference. By choosing to realise you are a leader, you begin to explore a whole new avenue of potential growth opportunities. For the last couple of years at The Salvation Army Craigieburn we've taken half a dozen people to the Global Leadership Summit. It's jammed packed with leadership teachings and bite-sized learning to think about. But the challenge is this:

People who don't think of themselves as leaders, don't immerse themselves in leadership development opportunities
The reason I mention this, is because some people don't attend leadership conferences or leadership growth opportunities, because they've already ridden off in their mind, that they are not leaders. I argue that that is most likely not true.

So, begin to realise you are a leader, and have a greater influence towards people around you.

2.  Choose to grow as a leader

Immerse yourself in world politics for more than 2 minutes and you'll see a world bereft of good leadership. Scratch a little deeper into small businesses, schools, churches and your local sporting club and you'll see a need for more leaders and better leaders. If you first begin to acknowledge you are potentially a leader (again, not dependent upon status as a leader), then you'll see there's now opportunity to grow as a leader.

I don't want to be at the same capacity five years from now. I want to be teachable, reliable and faithful, to becoming a better version of myself than I was the day before!

Choose to grow as a leader.

Here's some ways you can do that:
  • Attend a leadership course
  • Read a leadership book (ask me and I can recommend some!)
  • Have a coffee with a respected leader and ask them what they know
  • Read the Bible regularly (how did Jesus lead? how did Paul lead?)
  • Listen to a podcast: Try the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, for instance.
3. Think like a leader

I spoke to our church recently and identified the difference between the mindset of a volunteer and the mindset of a leader. There's a difference. I think we need more leaders, who realise they're leaders and think like leaders and operate like leaders:


Clearly, leaders act differently. Leaders make it a priority to thank others. Leaders are generally the first ones there and the last to leave. Leaders don't wait to be asked, but they take initiative. So if you're starting out as a new leader, understand that there's a paradigm shift needed to begin to think like a leader.

4. Moving from a me-mentality to an others-mentality

A new Salvation Army magazine was launched some time ago called Others. The more I think about it, the more I love the title. See, it's about others. Your salvation in Christ is important, of course, but as spoken about in Luke's gospel (15:3-7), we see the parable of the lost sheep:

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

We are clearly called to consider others. Paul puts it succinctly in his letter to the church in Philippi (2:3): 'Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.'

Followers of Jesus make their life about others. Leaders make it a priority to do something about helping others. If you are just starting as a leader, check your motives: is it about others?

If you ask yourself, 'How do I become a leader?' I suggest, look around, and realise, you probably already are!

Naturally, there is more to be said. But this is a beginner's guide to leadership. If you've found these points helpful, please share the blog, make a comment on the blog, or comment via facebook. Tag a young leader via social media. And just for the sake of it, grab a copy of my new book JESUS CHRIST!

What can you do to become a better leader today?
God bless,

Pete Brookshaw.

Related: Pete's Mammoth Guide to Effective Leadership

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Why we no longer care about Foreign Aid

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Back as far as 1970, OECD countries agreed that official development assistance (ODA), should be set at a minimum of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI). In Australia, we call it foreign aid, and it's about supporting countries that lack strong economies to provide for the marginalised of their communities.

One of the statements leaders of the G7 signed upon at the Monterrey summit in 2002 was, 'We urge developed countries that have not done so to make concrete efforts toward the target of 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) as ODA to developing countries.' (See Jeffrey Sachs', The End of Poverty, p. xxxiii).

But, we no longer care about foreign aid. Have a look Australia. Look at these damning statistics. Under Whitlam's government back in the 1970s we see the best effort yet of distributing foreign aid money overseas. Our overseas development assistance, has all but declined (as a percentage of GNI) ever since. Under Howard foreign aid was consistently below 0.3%. Under Rudd, Gillard, Rudd we see the ODA percentage rise a little. Now under the current conservative government of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison we see it being the lowest contribution recorded.
I think I know why.

We are experiencing a kind of Australian nationalism that I haven't seen before. Maybe it's a response to the populism of President Donald Trump or a reaction to radical Islam that has done it. Irrespective of the reasons, we live in a Australia now that is more intent of looking after itself. The Australian Federal Government is continually banging-on about securing our borders and we all become a little more insecure.

The premise is that we need to look after Australians better. I agree, but why does it need to be at the expense of others? I'm not a big fan of nationalism. I believe God created every living being. I believe all are made in the image of God. I believe all have human rights. I believe therefore that an economically strong country like Australia should do more to support our fellow brothers and sisters.

There's more to be said. We could debate the validity of the foreign aid system, and argue about the accountability measures that ensure it goes where it should, but all that aside...

Our rising Australian nationalism reveals that we are self-serving and greedy, with a disdain for cultural integration and respect for others.

I pray we can learn to be generous again.

Read more here about Australian Aid:


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