Keeping it Real

Ever been to a restaurant or café that is the latest big thing?

All your friends have been to it already and have raved.

You finally get there, your food come out, and suddenly you have no idea what all the fuss is about.

Your expectations were high and you are now dealing with disappointment.

When we are leading people we have to try and avoid this situation, because there is so much more at stake than the cost of dinner.


Here is a few thoughts on Keeping it Real in no particular order

  • We have to explain the expectations – especially when they are volunteering – people need to know how much time they will be giving, what to wear, when they will eat, what they will be doing. These practicalities communicate to people that you value them and are looking after them.
  • We have to be real with the things that we have control over. I often tell the College students I cannot get our local bus lines to put a bus route to our Campus – I have no authority over them – and I have called and asked but to no avail. I want the bus to stop outside College but it won’t help anyone if I promise what I surely cannot deliver.
  • We have to be realistic about what we can give of our time to the people we are leading. If we set up an expectation that we cannot meet, it might make us feel good when we are making the promise – but we will lose people’s trust when we can’t  deliver.
  • Help people to be realistic about people in leadership – honouring is so important – but it cannot lead to a zone where perfection is expected. People are people- they have different roles- but this side of heaven none of them are without failings and flaws. To expect perfection of leaders is incredibly unfair to them.

We have to keep it real – and still have faith in the mix. It’s a tricky balance and  depending on our personality we will tip over into either hyper faith or negativity.

When people’s expectations are not met they deal with a whole range of emotions from mild disappointment  to a total break of trust.

Lets be realistic with people- and treat them with the respect they deserve. Lets be  filled with faith but real. I love the verse that says Abraham considered his body as good as dead but still believed God. He was real and in faith!

One day I’ll get the balance right- what about you ?

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I Saw Women (re-post from EveryWoman)

Last week I had the huge honour of writing for the EveryWoman Blog – – it is on a topic that is very close to my heart so I thought I would repost it here !

In my role at College I get to go back to the US . This time I stopped in LA to catch up with some graduates, went back to NY to preach and to see dear friends and then onto Vegas for the C3 Pastors and Leaders Conference.

On this trip here is what happened to me – I saw Women. I really saw Women.

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In LA I saw Christine who is part of the C3 Silverlake Church plant and Heather who is helping Aimee Semple McPherson’s church set up a Bible College.

On Long Island I saw my friends Vicki, Jenn and Kim who have been pillars in that church for over 20 years , through all sorts of trials, standing strong. I saw Melissa who is only 30 and has been a Worship leader for 15 years! I saw Gabby who studied Visual Art at C3 College and is now their Youth Pastor.

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In Manhattan I saw Jen and Kat – Pastoring and Event Coordinating with so much dedication, sacrifice and passion. I saw Melissa bravely building C3 Manhattan despite living in a construction zone almost two years after Hurricane Sandy.



In Vegas I saw Jack leading us into the very presence of God as she worshipped – and caught up with Jolie, Dalyce, Elise, Autumn, Amber and Sarah – all College girls who have moved across country or across the world to be core in church plants.

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I saw Jill, Kay, Donna and Kathy walking a dear friend through tragedy.

I saw Leanne, Patti and Denise, Kelly, Judie, Sunny, Georgie, Keira, Nicole, Erica, Marlene, Casey, Jess and many many more.

Women are building the church – they are taking risks and stepping out. They are not the sidekicks to the guys- they are ministers of the gospel of Jesus in their own right. They are married and single – young and old – skinny and curvy – and they are magnificent.

I saw women and I know Jesus sees Women too. 


(Next week am starting a mini series on the heart – which I have preached around a little – stay tuned ! Don’t miss out by subscribing on the side .)

Repairing Bridges – Humbling and Necessary




In one week I did  damage to two relational bridges and have had to go back and do some repairs – and in both cases I could have left the bridges broken because I was technically “in the right” . However that would have made me so “in the wrong” .

It was humbling for these reasons

1. I had to own my part in the damage

2. I had to work hard to fix the damage

3. In one case the other person blamed me entirely for the damage and could not see their part – and I am pretty sure that is not going to change.

However despite the humbling process and how hard it is at points we have to be able to go back and repair bridges.

One bridge was a parent at a student at a recent student  performance. She objected to me taking photos and blocking her view and soundly rebuked me for it during the show. I certainly did less photo taking but I stewed during the show – my thoughts centring along – doesn’t she know who I am, I have a right to take photos. (Any sentence that begins with “don’t they know who I am ” should be a serious red flag- it lacks the heart of the gospel) .

At intermission I went to the bathroom – where I find the Holy Spirit is very present as I have fewer distractions – weird I know – and felt convicted about my attitude and decided I needed to go back to me seat- turn around and repair that bridge.

I have met that parent before , she had forgotten, and I did not want to do anything that would damage the relationship between her and the church or the College. Leaving the unpleasantness in the air would have done just that.

So I humbled myself, went in there and instead of avoiding eye contact – as I really wanted to do- sat down turned around and chatted. We had a great conversation, talked about the photo taking, worked it through and she came again the next night a deliberately said hello. I repaired the bridge – and now it is strengthened as is her view of the College and the church.

I wish I could say all bridge repairs are that straight forward – some take a lot more effort and time. However as ministers we need to have the skills to do it. Rather than avoid the situation we need to humble ourselves, roll up our sleeves and do some dirty work. I am learning the need to do it over and over again, how about you ? Comment below and add to the discussion.

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Making the Tough Pastoral Calls !




No-one likes making the tough calls – we often avoid them like the plague, until we are forced into making them. Lately I have had to make a few tough decisions to make  and have learnt some new things – which is always good . So I thought I would share them!

1) Gather the information you need.

In Proverbs 18:17 it says “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him”. Especially in church life we don’t like to involve too many people – we like to maintain confidentiality . This is a good thing – however when it comes to making decisions, especially about people’s lives, you need a 360 degree view of a situation to make a good call.

2) Don’t be rushed into a decision

I often find people trying to rush me into a decision because they are stressed and want an answer.Don’t be pushed into a hasty decision by some-one else’s timetable. You may regret it later . By the same token don’t drag it out unnecessarily – that will cause all concerned stress.

In a recent decision concerning a student’s future with us at  C3 College  – we made the decision on a Thursday and deliberately sat on it till the Tuesday so we could allow it to settle and make sure it was the right call. On Tuesday we decided it needed modifying and took more time – the final decision was better for the process.

3) Don’t feel like you have to make a decision alone

There is no shame in getting input from people who are more experienced or have a different view-point. Again Proverbs has wisdom in Chapter 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Just because you have been given responsibility doesn’t mean you have to be a lone ranger – humble yourself and ask a few people for wisdom.

4) Remember there is  people on the other side of a tough call

Especially in ministry, there are always people on the other side of tough calls – you need to constantly bear that in mind. People are not expendable – they are precious and valued in God’s sight – even if they are messing up right now. Don’t make calls that are cavalier and thoughtless and treat people like chess pieces. Make decisions that keep in mind people’s best long-term interests. Communicate that when you speak to them . Love them through your tough decision.

5) Pray – a lot

You will get supernatural peace, supernatural wisdom and see it from heaven’s view-point. God will also prepare and repair hearts including your own !

Hope that helped – it follows on from having the tough conversations – feel free to add any suggestions in the comment box below- I need all the help I can get !

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Guest Blog from Jenn Carlino- Excellent Thoughts on Delegation


Recently I was reminded of the power of delegation. In a couple weeks, my husband’s family, 15 of us, are renting a beach house on Eastern Long Island. This year I am responsible for one meal. This is Big.

Allow me to explain. Almost 7 years ago I married into a Sicilian family. Not just Italian, but Sicilian. My mother-in-law is an amazing cook- you haven’t had lasagna until you’ve had Connie’s lasagna. His family shows their love through food so at Christmas, birthdays and every family gathering it’s all about the food.

On Thursday night, I volunteered to make a meal when we are at the beach house. Traditionally, my mother-in-law does the cooking and politely turns me down when I offer to help.This year she said yes! She has delegated finally.

I drove home from Matt’s parent’s house thinking, What have I done? I’m only 25% Italian. What would I make? After a couple deep breaths, I started getting excited, looking through my cookbooks, thinking of salads and desserts. I can’t wait.

Delegation isn’t about getting people to help me. It’s about releasing people and getting them excited about their calling.

I read a great statement by John Mark Comer in Leadership Magazine, “Are we getting people to do OUR thing, or figuring out how to equip and empower people to live THEIR calling.” My passion as a mom, wife, friend and in my professional and church life is to have the people around me walk in the calling of his/her life.

A couple thoughts on delegation:

  • Allow others to take ownership of the vision. A couple months ago I was leading a prayer meeting and asked one of our youth to lead the group in prayer for salvations. She was so nervous that she had written her entire prayer on a notepad. After the meeting, she told me how expectant she was for salvation in our House.
  • You can’t do everything. In Exodus 18 Moses’ father in law, Jethro advised him to delegate authority regarding the government of the people of Israel. If you’re wanting to serve in the Kingdom of God for the long haul (which is what we’re called to do) you need people around.
  • Just because it’s not your style doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s a church in our area that years ago had a split choosing the color of carpet. The person who you delegated to make a sign, chose the menu for the women’s event or pick a new worship song probably spent as much time seeking God as you would have.
  • Let people make mistakes. Ask me about the time I gave all the kids soda at night church. I thought it was such a great idea. I’ve made tons of mistakes along the way and I’m thankful for the people who helped me learn and grow through the experiences.Thanks Pam.
  • Delegation isn’t abdication. Walk alongside people as they are doing things for the first time. You need to be the teacher and cheerleader.
  • Don’t hold on to the things you love. Just because you’re good at doing something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be delegated. Allow other people the space to grow– and they might have even more vision than you do.

I’m not using any of Connie’s recipes. I’m making what I’m good at.

And it’s just a meal. Things aren’t nearly as big as we think they are. Let the people around you try something. You never know what great things are in store for them. The Kingdom of God will grow as we equip people into the amazing life that God has for them.

Jennifer Carlino is a Dean at the School of Journalism, at Stony Brook University and is on the leadership team at C3 Long Island, as one of the preachers and she also does some Event Co-ordination. She was also shared a house with me for over 5 years on Long Island which she deserves a medal for !

5 Tips for the Tough Conversations




So I have done some tough conversations really well at times and really badly at others. I have at times cause damage and at times caused positive change. I have learned some things the hard way.

So for this post  I am going to assume you have decided to have the conversation because you know it needs to be done . (See Tough Conversations -Why Have Them ) Here are some tips I have picked up – feel free to add your own in the comments


1. One size does not fit all.

You have to take into account people’s wiring before having these confrontations. Some people are really teachable and will hear everything you say. Some people you will hit really hard and they still won’t get it. Some people are so gentle and sensitive you barely need to say anything. Some people need data- they need times and dates of what has gone wrong. Spend some time thinking about the person and how would be best to approach the conversation – when, where and how is going to be best for this person. They are worth it.

2. Use the smallest stick possible.

What does that mean – use the person with the lowest authority in a team or organisation – that is appropriate. You will find some leaders always want the department head, or Senior Pastor to deal with conflict. Resist this – for a few reasons. First and foremost- the more authority some-one holds the more the tough conversation will sting. You goal is not to hurt a person but to help them overcome an issue or skill deficit in their world. Secondly if it goes straight to the Senior Leader you have no-where else to go if it does not change. We want to give people every opportunity to change . A meeting with the Senior Pastor because they left a window open when they locked up the building is going to feel very heavy handed and possibly be more embarrassing than it needs to be.

3. Have the tough conversation as soon as is possible

Dealing with an issue in a timely manner is so important. The person gets a chance to rectify a situation quickly, you don’t brood over it and let it become bigger in your head than it should , and it relieves stress all around. I have sometimes let things get way too big in my head over time – then the tough conversation becomes way too tough – and counter productive. (I am thinking of some of these right now with shame – knowing there will be people reading this saying Amen and  praying I am changing !) Plus you spare the person repeating a mistake over and over, causing more damage than is necessary.

4. Make sure the person knows what is wrong

Seems obvious- but make sure the person understands at the end of the conversation what is wrong, what action steps they can take – or conversely if they have been able to explain the situation – that you understand them better. I have been on the receiving end of some tough conversations where it was too vague and I just was left feeling like the problem was with my personality- they just didn’t like me or value me and therefore there was nothing I could really do to make this situation better. It wasn’t the case but without some clear outcomes that is how I felt.

5. Pray 

Only God knows where you are at and where the person is at. So you need God’s peace all over the meeting even if it is tough. You needs God’s grace so that you can love each other and continue to serve God together. You needs God’s wisdom to do it well.

Hopefully we can have tough conversations that feel like a big brother or sister showing the way !

Any tips to add ? I would love to learn from you. 



Taking Risks- Guest Blog from my friend Kelly Taylor in the UK



I have asked my friend Kelly Taylor to write a Guest Blog- Kelly and her husband Mike did three years at C3 College and then went to the UK to help out with music at C3 London. They are now the ordained Worship Pastors, they now have one daughter ,the gorgeous Pae and they travel in Europe training worship teams. They are also the real deal – great people, who love God with their whole hearts, love people well -and are totally down to earth and lots of fun. To hear Kelly sing is a treat, to laugh with her is joy , to hear her wisdom on life is wonderful and I still miss her excellent hair cuts – hope you enjoy hearing from Kelly ……

So Pam has asked to write a blog, on one key to life in Ministry

Well there are many things that I could write about, but I think that one massive key has been to take risks

Sometimes the more we know about something, the harder it can be to take a risk, and for me I think that had I of known what was in store, I probably would have only looked at the cons and not what the pro’s were, making a decision based on a emotion and possible negatives, rather than on risk, experience, challenge and excitement.

So Risk, would be one of the things I would say has been a massive key in our ministry and still is. I’m so glad that Mike and I took the risk to move to another country where we only knew a handful of people, where we would be living on the opposite side of the world to friends and family, The risk that what if this didn’t work, the risk of unknown finances, I’m not trying to frighten anyone off, but going into ministry is loaded with massive risk’s and personal sacrifice, but what I would say, is that had we of not taken up the challenge, I would not be the person I am today.

You see what risk does is it forces us to challenge things about ourselves in an environment that is unfamiliar, I had to figure out who I am all over again on God, what makes me tick, what makes me happy and what makes me sad. Some may say well that’s just because your getting older hahah well maybe, but I don’t believe so for me, making the decision to step out has pushed me into areas I always thought I could never cope in, realizing with God on my side and me out of the way I can do so much more than what “I” had seen for my life.

So the key is….. Risk is good, so don’t be afraid of it. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. God has never left my side (our sides) and though everything he has repeatedly shown his love and blessings over and over again our lives and ministry