Israel, Day One

Four years ago today, I was on a life-changing journey through the Holy Lands.

aquaducts.JPG

Walking where Jesus walked and exploring historical archaelogical sites throughout Israel transformed my faith from mere head-knowledge to 3-D, concrete reality.

Before Israel my Scriptures were black-and-white words.
After Israel my Bible is a full spectrum of vivid colors and imagery.

Now when I read a Bible story, I can picture in my mind the geography, remember the smells, and feel a deeper connection to ancient history.

Tiberius along the Sea of Galilee

Tiberius along the Sea of Galilee

I’ve always meant to blog about my journey, but every time I’ve started to in the past, I’ve always gotten distracted (cursed ADHD!) and never finished.

Having just brought home our fifth and final child, I feel a strong responsibility to document my travels in the Holy Lands for my children. I want them to know that Jesus is God, the Bible is true, Hell is hot and Forever is a long time.

Discovering that Christianity is rooted in physically-verifiable science and archaeology was a game changer for me, and I hope these daily blog posts provide a springboard for their faith journies… and yours.

IMG_9699.JPG

Joining me on my journey four years ago today were my best friends at the time, Luke and Dan:

Luke was one of the first people to get behind my dream of launching Life Church Michigan from scratch and his signature is one of three on our legal incorporation papers! Luke is a jokester who continues to be one of my buddies to this day.

Dan was my best friend. I discovered him in 2010 while hiring for an open worship position at my previous church and we quickly hit it off. In 2014, Dan uprooted his family to join our team again. We opened a church together in a former golf center, our families were close, and I provided the funding for Dan to produce his first radio single.

aquaducts2.JPG

HEROD’S AQUEDUCTS

First stop in Israel were the ancient aqueducts built by King Herod.

Yes, THAT King Herod.

Still standing to this day, these aqueducts line the Mediterranean Sea and brought fresh water 13 miles (!) from Mount Carmel.

aqua3.jpg
aqua4.JPG
 

CAESAREA MARITIME

Next we traveled north to Caesarea Maritime, built by 8,000 people under the direction of King Herod. Over the centuries the site has been destroyed and rebuilt by Muslims and Crusaders.

The site is first mentioned in Acts chapter 10 and boasts the remains of one of Herod’s summer castles along the sea plus an ancient Olympic stadium. Gold medals used to be the only award at the Olympics; it was King Herod who first introduced the Silver and Bronze medals at Caesarea.

c1.JPG
c4.jpg

In Acts 12:19, Herod Jr. came to Caesarea where he was struck down by an angel and eaten by worms. If you ask me, that’s a pretty bad way to go.

c2.JPG
c6.JPG
c5.JPG
 

RUN YOUR RACE

In Acts 25, the Apostle Paul is arrested and brought here.

Outside Paul’s prison cell was Herod’s Olympic track where he heard athletes practicing hard.

The inspiration for “races” in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-3, Philippians 3:13-14, and 2 Timothy 4:7 in Paul’s writings came from this jail cell (which I am standing above in this next photo).

c7.jpg
c8.JPG
c9.JPG
c10.JPG
c11.JPG
Remains of King Herod’s summer castle on the edge of the Mediteranean Sea (note the ancient remains of a private swimming pool Herod had installed).

Remains of King Herod’s summer castle on the edge of the Mediteranean Sea (note the ancient remains of a private swimming pool Herod had installed).

Exploring the Olympic Stadium outside Paul’s prison with Jeff Kapusta.

Exploring the Olympic Stadium outside Paul’s prison with Jeff Kapusta.

c13.JPG

In Acts 25-26, Paul is brought before the Roman audience to plead his case.

Dan and I stood in the exact spot where Paul did. Acts 26:1 finally made sense; Paul “motioned with his hand” to quiet the crowd because he was facing an audience in-the-round!

c3.jpg
 

LEADERSHIP LESSONS

Two big ideas rang out to me standing where Paul stood in his chains:

  1. Don’t define your leadership by what you see RIGHT NOW. Paul had NO IDEA his impact… in chains! When you experience new challenges and struggles, you are growing! The leadership you are providing your church now will outlast you… just look at Paul!

  2. Paul was in prison. That’s tough. Yet Paul did not quit. He fought, finished, and kept the faith. Paul used his current struggles to write Scripture. There is always a struggle before a breakthrough!

Luke and I discovered a Sycamore Tree… the kind that Zacchaeus climbed in   Luke 19  .

Luke and I discovered a Sycamore Tree… the kind that Zacchaeus climbed in Luke 19.

MOUNT CARMEL

Next we travelled to Mount Carmel, the famous site where the prophet Elijah called down fire from heaven in 1 Kings 18.

It struck me that rain is rare in the desert. How does the sparse vegetation grow?

The morning dew, early in the morning, sustains life.

You will discover your sustenance if you will rise early for the dew.

The danger for leaders is when we focus on the rain (ministry out of memory) and forget the dew (fresh revelation every single morning).

This is the spot where Elijah called down fire from heaven.

This is the spot where Elijah called down fire from heaven.

Mount Carmel gives you a view of the entire landscape. Nazareth (a place of hope) is slightly north of Armageddon (the place of death).

Mount Carmel gives you a view of the entire landscape. Nazareth (a place of hope) is slightly north of Armageddon (the place of death).

The overpass marks where the false prophets of Baal were slaughtered in 1 Kings 18.

The overpass marks where the false prophets of Baal were slaughtered in 1 Kings 18.

The prophet towers over entry to this famous mountain in northern Israel.

The prophet towers over entry to this famous mountain in northern Israel.

elijah6.jpg
elijah7.jpg
IMG_9676.JPG
elijah5.jpg
 

SEA OF GALILEE

Finally we wrapped Day One where Jesus walked on water.

I tried walking on the same water:

galilee2.JPG
galilee1.jpg
galilee3.JPG
galilee4.JPG
galilee5.JPG

7 Factors That Caused Life Church Michigan to Explode

The news is sad: over 85% of churches are plateaued or declining.

43487307_926892554170015_5845496106703650816_n.jpg

I get asked all the time why Life Church Michigan is exploding:
Since launching 5 years ago, my church has grown from 0 people to 1,200 people and is now launching our third church campus.

Of course, God is making it grow (1 Corinthians 3).

For what it’s worth, here are 7 Factors I recently shared during a Fearless Leadership Online Coaching Event that I believe led to our rapid growth:

Crowd.jpg
  1. Early on, we identified WHO we were trying to reach and HOW to shepherd the four types of groups in every church.

    I go into detail on the four types of groups in every church during this recent Fearless Leadership Coaching Event.

  2. It starts in the HEART of the LEADER who ignites a PASSION in the PEOPLE.
    As goes the LEADER, so go the PEOPLE!
    Combining my speaking gifts with my passion for the Lost, my goal every Sunday is to have people leave the church talking about stories from the message.

  3. We decided to be a church that PLANS for 20% GROWTH ANNUALLY.
    10% growth = our power.
    20% growth = God’s power!
    All of our internal systems are designed for a church TWICE our size so that when we grow to that size, we are ALREADY READY for the INCREASE.

JonSpkngInAction.JPG

5. Facilities are NOT a BARRIER.

The earliest Christ followers in Acts had NO facilities — what they LACKED in RESOURCES they GAINED in being RESOURCEFUL! I unpacked this in greater detail during the Fearless Leadership Online Coaching Event.

42520462_920240374835233_7876707095851040768_n.jpg

6. We decided from Day One to be WILLING to do WHATEVER.

We unapologetically focus on the WEEKENDS: If you don’t draw a crowd, people will not say Yes to Christ (empty rooms kill your credibility)!

7. We created a STRONG INVITING CULTURE. A consistent product on Sundays = No Surprises for our people when they stick their necks out to invite friends to church!

BONUS TIP FOR LEADERS: BACKBONE. Get one.

WANT MORE FREE LEADERSHIP TIPS?

Subscribe to my new FREE monthly podcast FEARLESS LEADERSHIP on Apple Podcasts!

WANT ALL ACCESS?

Use the exclusive coupon code BABYGIRL for 50% off your Fearless Leadership All Access subscription!

WANT TO SEE MY CHURCH?

Never Say No for Other People

IMG_9848.JPEG

I'm a little fired up right now.

Someone just told me they didn't make an ask because they didn't think the person would go for it.

In other words, they said "no" for them.

They "passed" on behalf of the person without even giving them the chance to say "yes."

Let me tell you something...

When it comes to making things happen, everyone has a job.

Your job is to dream audaciously, act courageously and make big asks.

Their job is to say yes or no. And this is their job alone.

Never say no for other people.
Do you know why most church leaders don't lead growing churches?

It's not because they're not capable.

It's not because they don't want to try.
It's because they don't think anyone will buy in to their audacious vision for the future.
They say "no" for the church!



When I planted our church from scratch, I had to get people to buy into the vision and volunteer for an organization that existed only in my head. I had to pull off a miracle with very little money.


So I contacted all the local news stations asking if they would do an interview with me on live television.

Nearly every news producer didn't return my call.  Why would anyone give free, expensive airtime to an unknown, unproven local pastor with no people?

One did.

In what would have cost $35,000 to buy, I received free television airtime to talk about my new church start-up.

Are you kidding me?? That's impossible, right!?

Never Say No for Other People.

Last week, my wife and I found ourselves with a sudden, unexpected adoption bill well North of $15,000.

We were at the end of our rope.

We had no way to come up with that amount of money in 48 hours.

So I started a spur-of-the-moment telethon online.

Did I know if anyone would tune in?  No.

Would an online audience donate money for our cause?  I had no idea.

Was I assured that all my hard work and sweat and financial asks would result in reaching our goal?  Nope.

But I understood this principle of leadership: provision always follows vision.

Leaders have to jump off the cliff first if they expect others to follow.

For 35 hours live online, I shared my heart, we refused to give up, and we prayed that God would bless our efforts.

The end result?

We raised more than $15,000 in 48 hours from strangers online.

Never Say No for Other People.

You have a decision to make this week.

Big asks are part of leadership.

Will everyone support your crazy, audacious vision or goal?

Probably not.

But we will only ever be spectators of other people's achievements and triumphs if we take on the job of saying "no" for other people!

We're Having a Baby

 

My life just got turned upside-down.

Can you relate?

To catch up to our crazy, life-changing story, first watch this Facebook Livestream.

Still with me?

Sunday afternoon we got a phone call from one of our adopted children’s birthmoms.

She had a baby girl on Saturday and asked if we would adopt her baby.

Here’s how we broke the news to our kids:

Baby Girl is Adorable

Yesterday my wife and I were in Detroit and met our new Baby Girl!

IMG_9732.jpg

If you SUBSCRIBE to my new YouTube Channel, you can see all the brief video updates we shared!

And yes, we are proud to publicly announce our Baby Girl’s name in this video:

Help Us Bring Our Baby Girl Home to Team Herron

As you can imagine, infant adoption is expensive… and this fell into our laps suddenly, so we’re racing to raise funds!

IMG_9729.jpg

Thankfully, our friends at Adoption Associates have cut the adoption fees by 50% because of the rare circumstances involved!

We have to raise just over $10,000 in two weeks.

Our friend Monica Lynch designed exclusive new Raising Arrows gear based on Psalm 127 (tee’s, hoodies, Under Armour hats) that benefit our adoption HERE.

We’re also thankful for everyone who has pitched on our new GoFundMe.com/TeamHerron pageyou all rock!

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 9.45.21 AM.png
IMG_9333.JPG

THANK YOU for your prayers, encouragement, and support during this crazy journey God has called our family into.

We love you!

 

Billy Graham on the Earliest Christ Followers

FullSizeRender.jpg

Speaking about the first Christians, Billy Graham said:

 "They had no Bibles, no cemeteries, no Bible schools.

No radios or telephones.

No printing presses.

No churches.

Nothing!

However, they turned the world upside down in one generation. What did they have? They had an experience with the living Christ. They had the filling of the Holy Spirit."

Improvise / Adapt / Overcome

 
who_1800x1310.jpg

Marines get stuff done.

They face impossible missions yet always prevail.

2 Timothy 2:1-6 tells leaders to think like a marine.

During a recent Fearless Leadership Coaching Session, I shared 8 Leadership Lessons from the Marine Corp: Common Sense Principles for Success.

I hope these 8 Leadership Lessons encourage you and your team to fearlessly lead your church to grow!

 

Suck It Up

Yes, leadership is hard and tough.

If you want everyone to like you, sell ice cream cones!

Leadership is hard, but it’s worth it.

Paul told Timothy to suck it up and press on (2 Timothy 2:3).

And when I feel stressed or scared or overwhelmed, I remember the fearlessness of Christian leaders who have come before me.

One of my favorite historical leaders was John Chrysostom.

 
1113achrysostom.jpg
 

When John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) was brought before the empress Eudoxia, she threatened him with banishment if he insisted on his Christian independence as a preacher.

“You cannot banish me, for this world is my Father’s house.”

“But I will kill you,” said the empress.

“No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” said John.

“I will take away your treasures.”

“No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from your friends and you will have no one left.”

“No, you cannot, for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me. I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to harm me.”

Today, you have permission to be fearless.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

You gotta start somewhere.

For me, it was hiring a local videographer, buying (expensive!) television airtime, and taking a big huge, scary leap of faith!

 

God loves creating beauty out of ashes and healthy fruit out of tiny seeds:

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin..." (Zechariah 4:10)

6 years ago today we started airing this tv ad, trying to create momentum for monthly preview services -- the beginnings of Life Church Michigan.

It worked.

Today we are a healthy, thriving, fast-growing movement of changed lives and about to launch our 3rd campus in the Great Lakes Bay Region (still blows me away!).

My advice?

Never give up.

Never, never, never, NEVER give up on your dream.

Ignore the haters
(the loudest boos always come from the cheapest seats!).

If God has called you to it, He will see you through it!

#PressOn