This Is Your Year of No

Stay in your lane if you want to help people and do great things

For you and I, this is our year of saying no. I have decided to say no to a lot of good stuff, and a lot of crappy stuff, so that I can focus on the stuff that’s aligned with the lane I’m in. The best stuff.

If you’re like me, you have found it difficult to turn down opportunities and requests for help.

I used to fear that if I said no to an opportunity I might be closing the door on something great. So I jumped on every one that came my way. But what I found is that by accepting every opportunity I became scattered and unfocused. I was never be able to take advantage of any single one of those opportunities to the fullest.

By saying yes to every offer I created the very scenario I feared. By saying yes to every good opportunity I left no room in my life to see which one might turn into something great.

I also found that by helping everyone who asked, I was robbing them of what they needed. No one received 100% of my effort. And the more people I helped, the fewer of them I could serve in any meaningful way.

Everybody suffered.

So I have commitment in 2017 to start saying no to 99% of the opportunities that come my way (even good opportunities) to focus on what really matters.

Greg McKeown in his book Essentialism put it like this:

“… once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

I’ll only consider an opportunity if

  1. it aligns with the lane I’m in. Every runner knows that to win the race and hit their personal goals, they need to stay in their own lane. There’s nothing wrong with the other lanes. Other athletes are running in them and doing great stuff. But you’ll never get anywhere if you’re crisscrossing around the tarmac. You have to stay focused. You have to stay in your lane. What is your ONE BIG GOAL for 2017? That is your lane.
  2. it fits in my lane. It might be a fantastic opportunity and it might align with my lane. But do I have the margin in my calendar to accept the opportunity? The more things I take on the slower I go. Runners have light weight shoes and sleek outfits designed specifically for helping to reach their goals. Can you really afford to take on another opportunity?
  3. it is better than what I have going. What are you going to cut out to take on this new opportunity? Only switch out your running shows if the new ones are better. Always accept the very best opportunities – but only if they are better than what you have going, and if they help you meet your ONE BIG GOAL. Good opportunities are a dime a dozen. Great opportunities are hard to come by.

I have already had to say no to ministry opportunities and I have had to quit commitments I made in 2016. I took no pleasure in quitting, but I knew that I was only hurting the ministries I was trying to help because I wasn’t able to give them what I knew they needed.

Lysa Terkurst put it like this (in her book, The Best Yes):

“Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.”

You may not do more this year. But you will accomplish more. You may not help as many people this year. But you will be able to serve the people you do help in a meaningful way.

Question: What is your one big goal of 2017? How do you plan to stay in your lane? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Don’t Let Others Tell You What Bible To Buy

Join my launch team for "Your Next Bible: Everything You Need To Know."

A mom and dad came into my Bible bookstore looking to buy their son a Bible for Christmas. Their son was very specific: He wanted a study Bible of a very particular translation. The only problem is, his parents could not remember what translation he wanted.

The dad thought he wanted a New Living Translation. So I showed him an NLT Study Bible, and he immediately fell in love with it. “This has got to be the one! I might even get one for myself.”

But the boy’s mom wasn’t sure. So she sent her son a text: “Did you want an NLT Study Bible? We forget.”

In reply the son was swift and decisive: His youth leader told him to stay away from the NLT. It’s too loose. If he wants a translation that is closest to the original, he needs to buy a New American Standard Bible (NASB).

So that’s what he got, an NASB. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The NASB is a good translation. But here’s the problem. The youth leader – who is a person of influence in this young man’s life – has an opinion about the NASB and the NLT that the boy accepted without question. And that opinion came with a series of assumptions that are not necessarily correct.

For example:

Is Social Media More Like Reality TV or Reality?

There are still people who think social media is more like reality TV than reality. Usually these are people with an aversion to social media, are unplugged or out of touch and don’t understand how it works. They are not “in” the digital culture, and that’s why they don’t understand it.

So I’m always a little surprised when someone who relies on social media for a living equates it to reality TV. Yet such was the case in a recent article by Chris Martin who is an “Author Development Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources” (ya, I don’t know what any of that means either. But it sounds fancy).

6 Ways to FOCUS in a Dug Syndrome Society


We have a serious problem in our society. It’s called Dug Syndrome. And no, that’s not its official name, but it certainly is an apt description of what it’s like trying to focus in today’s world.

In case you’re unaware or don’t remember, Dug was the name of the talking dog from Pixar’s UP! When grumpy Carl and boy scout Russell first met Dug, he explained that his master made him a collar that allowed him to speak English. But midway through a sentence and without warning Dug’s head whips around as he shouts, “SQUIRREL!” (Watch this clip.)

And that is just like us. Mid-sentence… mid-project… mid-thought… mid-study… mid-research… mid-anything… then suddenly: “SQUIRREL!” – we get another notification. We wonder who commented on our Facebook photo. We have to see if any new emails arrived in the past five minutes. And then we go back to whatever it was we were doing, only to rinse and repeat moments later: “SQUIRREL!”

And here’s the problem with Dug Syndrome:

Are social algorithms the end of your influence?

3 Reasons Instagram's Algorithm Is Good For You

In case you missed the news, Instagram announced that it will begin sorting images in its feed according to the content that Instagram thinks its users want to see the most.

In other words, like Facebook (who owns Instagram), Instagram is developing an algorithm that takes several factors into consideration such as

“… the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post…”

What this means for you as a user is when you open Instagram, rather than seeing posts in chronological order with the most recent post at the top, you’ll see posts organized according to what Instagram thinks you will want to see the most.

But as a platform builder, ministry entrepreneur or church communicator, what this means for you is that people might view your content less (or more) than they are now, depending how much your followers like your content.

As soon as Instagram made their announcement entrepreneurs, small businesses, churches and ministries panicked. I even saw a thread of church communicators titled “Farewell, Instagram.” And posts began showing up in my newsfeed of people practically begging their followers to “turn on notifications.” (My advice, don’t go there.)

But you don’t have to worry. Instagram’s algorithm isn’t the end of your influence. I fact, it might just be the beginning.

And here’s why:

1. 70% of your followers currently don’t see your posts.

Instagram claims that people miss 70% of the content in their feeds. If we reverse-engineer that number, it means that only 30% of your followers ever see your posts. Because once you post something it starts at the top of the newsfeed and begins its journey down into the abyss of pasts posts.

By the time your follower logs into Instagram, your post has been buried under a pile of more recent posts (unless they happen to log in around the time that you posted). So the current situation isn’t very good as it is.

2. The number of people who see your content may go up.

Because the current situation for you isn’t very good as things stand, Instagram’s new algorithm means that in all likelihood, things will only get better for you.

If your fans follow you because they actually want to see your content, then Instagram will move your content closer to the top of their newsfeed which will result in you having more (not less) influence.

3. It’ll force you to be better at what you do.

People love free exposure. I know I do! But just because I force myself in front of people doesn’t mean that they actually want to see my content. And I think so many brands, businesses and ministries reacted to Instagram’s algorithm announcement because it suddenly caused us to stop and ask ourselves, “Is my content good enough to make the cut?”

And the fear is, it’s not.

So if we want more than 30% of our followers to see our content, we need to attract a highly targeted follower base, and post really good content. I think it’s good that Instagram has not separated “brands” from average users like Facebook has. Everybody is on equal footing. Because Instagram is just now beginning to roll out its new algorithm-based update, this is the perfect opportunity to get better at posting.

Become good now so you don’t slump down later.

a) post content frequently.

b) post high quality content.

c) post content your followers will want to see

Don’t be discouraged by Instagram’s new algorithm update. If anything, see this as the opportunity that it is.

Comfort in Andy Stanley’s Bad Words

Not long ago Andy Stanley goofed. He made a brassy statement from the pulpit that received immediate backlash from the Christian internet community, and I for one find comfort in the whole ordeal.

Here’s the context.

While preaching a sermon that was aired online Stanley attempted to make a case for large churches because he believes bigger churches facilitate better communities in which to situation their youth and junior youth.

That’s fine. Big church folk have always advocated the big church model, and small church folk have often advocated for the small church model.

There’s nothing new about that ugly family feud, as unfortunate as it is.

But here’s where Stanley crossed the line:

“When I hear adults say, ‘Well, I don’t like a big church. I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,’ I say, ‘You are so stinkin’ selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids…I’m saying if you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.”

Those are some of the most audacious and loaded phrases I’ve ever heard a Christian professional utter.

The online community’s response was swift and led to this follow up tweet:

I have said some stupid things from the pulpit. I mean, I’ve said some really, REALLY dumb things that were, at the time, completely out of line.

In fact (and this might come as a surprise to some people but…) just because something comes from the pulpit doesn’t mean it’s God ordained.

And like Stanley, it often isn’t until after I’ve watched the sermon on video did I realize how dumb something I said was.

It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating. And it has happened to almost every pastor, every lay minster, every itinerate preacher that I’ve ever known.

So I for one find this whole ordeal with Andy Stanley’s comments comforting.

Sorry Andy, I don’t mean to take comfort in your very public blunder.

But it is comforting to know that if it could happen to such a high-profile, well respect pastor, leader and author, that it could happen to any of us. Especially me.

I no longer feel like a little guy standing up next to the impervious giants of the pulpits.

I’m still a little guy in a little (small church) pulpit. That hasn’t’ changed.

What has changed is that the impervious giants of the pulpits aren’t actually impervious and aren’t actually giants.

It’s a comfort to know that we’re all human.

Even in the pulpit.

Andy, apology accepted!

Do you need a degree to minister and be heard?

Hey, recently I read about a guy who hated writing and who dropped out of college to become a bestselling author. Yes, you heard that right. He hated writing, but he dropped out of college to become a bestselling author.

And from that book he launched a business and career and influences hundreds and thousand of people every single day.

Today he has courses online. He teaches. He has other bestselling books.

And he doesn’t even have a college degree.

Isn’t that crazy?

Why would so many people read a book written by a recent college drop out?

It used to be that if you wanted to be heard, you had to have “something under your belt.”

Even if you wanted to start a ministry, nobody would take you seriously if you didn’t at least finish Bible college.

But that’s not the case anymore.

There’s a young homeschooled girl here in my hometown who recently graduated high school and when she did she started a ministry using nothing more than a blog and social media.

In one year her Facebook page grew to more than 3,000 followers, her blog has exploded. She developed a team of ministry partners and leads and facilitates online Bible studies.

Why would so many people gather around, follow and be influenced by a young girl fresh out of homeschooling?

The answer is we live in a world radically different than anything before.

Today people will judge you on your passion before they judge you on your level of education.

If you’re passionate about helping people, you win. It really is that simple. The more passionate you are, the more you win.

Technology has made this possible.

We no longer need permission from gatekeepers to have influence, get our message out and help people around the world.

All you need is to use the technology that is already at your fingertips, And when you combine that with the right strategy, you’ll have a fool-proof recipe for…

  • Launching a ministry
  • Planting a church
  • Writing a book
  • Teaching online courses
  • Leading online Bible studies
  • Creating innovation within your local community
  • Starting an apologetics or evangelism ministry
  • Running a discipleship program
  • Beginning a coaching ministry
  • Or whatever else you can imagine…

And the best part is nobody is standing in your way.

But there are people willing to help you. And I’m one of them.

I took a college run class on social media (heck, I could have taught the class, but I wanted to see what it had to offer), and here’s the thing: the curriculum for the class was only six months old and already it was outdated!

In the past this wouldn’t be a problem. Post-secondary curriculum would often be good for a decade or so. Maybe longer.

But after six months the material used to teach me in this college class last year on social media was already out of date!

There goes $500 bucks!

Today’s challenge and opportunity

If you’re in ministry – whether you’re a pastor, small group leader, evangelist, youth leader, etc. – or if you want to start your own ministry like the young women I mentioned above, you need to stay on top of the best ways to use this technology for God’s kingdom.

You need to stay current. You need training.

But traditional education will take up too much of your time. Too much money. And by the time you enrol the material will already be outdated!

So that’s the challenge. And that’s why I created iGospel Academy. iGospel Academy is a cheap and highly effective solution to your greatest challenge: how to continue to innovate and use today’s technology for God’s Kingdom in a way that’s affordable and flexible with your time.

iGospel Academy is a ministry-training and empowering website designed to help mission-minded Christians learn to use today’s technology and leadership tools to reach more people for God’s Kingdom.

In the Academy you’ll find interviews and presentations by church leaders and social media practitioners who are having amazing results through their unique approaches to ministry.

Learn what they are doing, learn from them, discover how they are doing it and then follow the accompanying action guides that will help you produce similar results.

In the Academy…

  • Vince Antonucci, pastor of the Verve church in Las Vegas, will teach you how to do innovative church services for people who don’t like church
  • Jason Caston, author of the iChurch Method, will teach you how to launch an Internet Church Campus
  • Anna Powers will talk about Periscope and what live video can do for your ministry
  • Janet Sewell, a missionary and apologist in Greece, will share with you how to Evangelize in the digital space
  • Keith Webb, author of The Coach Model, will show you how to become a ministry coach
  • And that’s just to name of few of the many presentations in the Academy.
  • Plus you’ll learn:
    • How to launch a ministry with a book, and get it on one of Amazon’s #1 lists
    • How to increase your Facebook organic reach
    • How to grow your Twitter account fast with maximum impact
    • How to be more consistent and save time on social media with content buckets
    • And more…

My goal with iGospel Academy is to bring solid, high quality training to ministry leaders and mission-minded Christians at a price anybody can afford.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in then let me tell you about an early bird special that ends Wednesday, March 16th, at midnight (EST). You can scoop up a membership into the Academy for only $15 a month, or $130 a year or $400 for a lifetime membership (which is cheaper than taking one class at your local college!).

Plus, if you enrol before midnight Wednesday, you won’t pay anything for 30 days. This will give you some time to check out the content in the Academy to see if it’s right for you before you pay.

Today is the best time to join the Academy. After Wednesday the price will go up (slightly) and the first month free option will be gone.

So click here if you want to learn more or to take advantage of this opportunity.


I hope to see you on the inside!

What we talk about when we talk about the Gospel?

Remarkable Gospel! Series - II

In this post I’ll be continuing my Remarkable Gospel! series. We launched this series in the previous post (click here) where I challenged you to take an honest look at the gospel and ask yourself, is it still remarkable today? To answer that question we’re now stepping back and asking ourselves, what do we mean when we talk about the “Gospel”?

How-To Guides Are Unremarkable

Have you ever seen a Tweet that looks like this:ikea3

I bet in the history of social media nobody has ever Tweeted that.

Because nobody finds instructions remarkable. I know I don’t. In fact, much to the chagrin of my wife, I’d prefer not even looking at instructions when putting something together if I can avoid it.

Instruction manuals are a means to an end and most people only look over as few of the instructions as absolutely necessary to arrive at their goals.

Recently we purchased a brand new SUV to accommodate our growing family (with baby #2 on the way, our little Fiesta will no longer do). With our new Escape came a “user manual.” And guess how many times we read it?

Zero. We haven’t even cracked the spine even though there are features in this new car that we’ve never seen before.

Because user manuals, how-to guides, instruction books – they are boring. They are completely unremarkable. We use them when necessary, and not a moment more than that, and we certainly don’t talk about them.

The Gospel Is Not A How-To Guide