Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year there are a never-ending onslaught of articles, blog posts, podcasts, conferences, books, training sessions and seminars about using to-do lists to boost creativity.  There are an infinite amount of styles, formulas, structures and strategies for creating, maintaining and implementing task lists.  However, for me…they all were like a noose around my neck.  Confining, limiting and down right suffocating.  Most start with some form of a mind dump…getting everything in your head onto paper so you can get it all done.  Every time I’d do the mind dump I’d look at an endless list of stuff to get done, feel like I was stuck under water, go into some kind of breathless panic attack and start looking for a large, speeding truck to lay down in front of.  Time and again I’d download some new app that was suppose to be the magic bullet for productivity only to find I killed productivity by trying to learn the flippin’ thing.  List after list…mind dump after mind dump…app after app…system after system…would leave me on the floor curled in the fetal position sucking on Kleenex and reciting stanzas from “Green Eggs And Ham”.

Then one day I took a look at a mind dump list I’d just made…and realized, “Half of this crap won’t make any difference to anyone if it gets done.  It won’t change the world, won’t further God’s Kingdom and it won’t help me do the things I feel called by God to do!”  So I crumpled up the list, chunked it in the trash and made a vow never to be hobbled by a to-do list again.  It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  The sun came out, angels sang songs of jubilation and small Disney-like animals became my friends. I could breath, I could think and I could dream.  I stopped sitting around making endless lists and started actually doing the things I had a passion for. If I forgot to get the milk or fill out a form no one would die.  If my inbox didn’t get to zero and a task fell by the wayside life still went on.  The “big rocks” got written on a whiteboard in my office (which I’m rarely in – offices suck) – not all of the details and tasks – just the initial passion-driven idea.  Really important tasks that further those “big rocks” occasionally get scheduled into my calendar if they are date-specific or time sensitive.  There is no “didn’t get it done guilt”.  There is a free mind to dream big dreams.  There is a relaxed leader that enjoys what God called me to.  I killed the to-do list and rediscovered my passion.  Give it a try…unless you’re OCD…you’ll never use a to-do list ever again!!!

One my favorite things to do is recommend great resources to other church leaders…especially when they are low cost/no cost and have been helpful to Impact! Church. Over the years I have come to expect great things from Perry Noble/NewSpring Church, Steven Furtick/Elevation Church, The Sticks, LifeChurch.tv, Shawn Lovejoy/Velocity and The Rocket Company…and have no trouble promoting anything they release.  Today I can add a new resource provider to that list…my friends Chad Hunt and Michael Robison have begun a new church leadership program called TTI – Traditional To Intentional.  Their first resource is a FREE ebook that I just completed and it is tremendous.  It is called “Radical Hospitality” and is perfect for helping you make first time guests into returning guests.  I highly recommend the book and Impact! Church has tweaked a few things in our worship services as a result.  Like I said…it’s free (well, you have to give them your email address, but that’s no big thing)…I’ve read it…we’ve used it…now you can also.

Click here to get your copy.

Since our church made the move to downtown Lakeland it has not been boring and I have never laughed so much in my life.  Every day brings about a new adventure, a new neighborhood character and a new story.  As a result, here is 20 fun facts about pastoring a church that is in a pretty bad neighborhood.

1. UFC looks like a Girl Scout sleepover compared to two drunk homeless women fighting over a raw chuck roast.

2. When someone brings you the exact plumbing part you need to fix the men’s room toilet don’t ask them where the part came from.  Just assume that someone else’s toilet in the neighborhood is no longer flushing.

3. No one on the street goes by their real name.  They all have nicknames like Foo Foo, June Bug, Mama T, Hollywood and Baby Girl.  Mine is Rev…I didn’t pick it.

4. Never clean up trash on the church property without gloves.  That wadded up paper towel may be concealing a melted Baby Ruth…or human feces…it’s hard to tell.

5. Twerking is a perfectly acceptable form of worship for people that have never ever been to church.

6. At a community outreach event never say the words “who wants a bag of chips” unless you are wearing a the outfit of a professional hockey goalie.

7. When a guy in the street is exchanging money with a guy in a car that just pulled up…never..I mean NEVER hand them an invite card to the Sunday service.  Always show common courtesy by waiting until the transaction is complete before approaching.

8. As you are getting ready to preach and ask the audience. “How is everyone doing today?” be prepared for some drunk or stoned person to answer…very loudly…and with great detail.

9. A petite homeless woman can drink 7 gallons of black coffee by herself in one sitting.

10. When someone in the neighborhood hands you a cup of liquid always sniff it before you drink it.  Trust me…you can’t tell a thing just by looking!

11. Any biodegradable substance can be used to make a decent tasting sandwich. Seriously.

12. On any given Sunday the church will smell like a pungent combination of Axe Body Spray and hot garbage.

BONUS FACT - Never use the words “love offering” when prostitutes are sitting in the worship service.  They don’t understand the phrase and are easily offended.