The Ever So Popular Brain Vomit…

So here is how my typical week goes. Sunday I preach so Monday I am brain dead. On Mondays I typically stick to meetings and administration. Tasks I need to get done, but don’t require a lot of critical thinking. Tuesday, my brain turns back on, somewhat anyway. So I typically spend a large portion of Tuesday locked away in my office studying, praying, meditating and listening.


So when I go home on a Tuesday my head is so full of information, ideas and stories, and just like a good steak, the ideas need some time to marinate. On Wednesday, I usually start my day with prayer, a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Then I vomit…

Now, I do not actually vomit every Wednesday morning. It’s a metaphor. Okay, so I know its not the prettiest picture in the world, but I think it communicates a point. I call it a brain vomit (other people do too). My head is full of ideas, illustrations, thoughts, stories, commentaries and I need to get all the important stuff out there.

So how does a brain vomit work. Like I said, I sit down at my desk, with my door shut. I take a blank sheet of paper, I turn on the timer of my iPhone for 15 minutes and I go. I write down every single thought that comes to my mind, every story, phrase, verse, etc. that comes to my mind. There is NO filter, I just write it down, even if it doesn’t make sense.

So why is this so important? Far too often our ideas never make it out of the realm of imagination. We have a thought, it escapes us and we really aren’t sure if we can get it back. For me this exercise helps me get everything floating around in my head out on paper. Sometimes thoughts form little streams, other times they never develop, other times they don’t come out in the sermon but in other areas.

Not only do I do this basically on a weekly basis writing sermons, I also do it sporadically with my ministry. So after spending some time looking back at ministry in 2014 and defining your ministry as we move forward, now its time to dream.

Take out a sheet of paper. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Answer this question… Remember, no filter, don’t let money, resources, space stop you. Just write it all down. Think in terms of ministry structure, impact, reach, needs, etc. Write it all down! Ready, set, GO!

Question:  As your ministry moves forward into the future, what would you like to see happen in your ministry in 2015 and beyond.

This is a series of blogs for Shiloh Road Leaders (staff, shepherds, deacons, and ministry leaders) to help you prepare and plan your ministry as we move forward into the new year and beyond. If you lead a team, get together as a team to work through these exercises. If you are over several ministries, encourage those ministries you oversee to make this a priority.


This week I had one of the most impactful ministry experiences in my ministry up to this point.

For several years now I have been really trying to focus more of my time and energy on developing student leaders in ministry.  I have done okay, but at Catalyst this year Andy Stanley really put words with what I have wanted to do with students.  Andy described their primary focus in developing leaders at North Point, they call it intentional apprenticing.

Intentional apprenticing: selecting, modeling and coaching for the purpose of replacing yourself.

The term and concept have really resonated with me.  Andy challenged leaders to stop doing things alone; don’t prepare alone, plan alone, interview alone.  Everything you do is an opportunity for you to teach someone how to do what you do.  We have created this false sense that everything we do is so difficult.  Bottom line, it’s not.  You don’t have to be the best or even know the best way to go about it; your responsibility is not to fill up someone else’s cup but to empty yours.  You don’t have to be the best or the most knowledgeable, just simply teach people to do what you do.

So, this past Tuesday I decided to invite all of our student leaders to go with me to Abilene to interview summer interns.  They were all devastated about having to miss school for a day but after a little convincing they all decided to go.  We had a great day together.  I thought it would be a great opportunity for them to see interviews done and actually interview some of the kids.

As we started out in the morning I conducted the interviews.  I would give them the opportunity toward the end of the interview to ask a few fun questions and that was about it.  After the candidate would leave, we would talk about the interview.  What did the candidate do well and what did they do not so well. I would explain why I asked certain questions and what I was watching for in the candidate.

As the day went on I allowed them to conduct more and more of the interview.  Finally, I turned it over to them.  The last four interviews of the day I turned over to the students completely and said go for it.  I simply sat back and watched.  Each time I would pick one student and tell them to take the lead.  The first one was a little nervous.  However, with each interview you could tell they were getting a little more comfortable.  It was amazing.  By the end of the day we were talking about their interviewing skills more than the candidates.

I think it was the clearest picture of discipleship I have seen.  To them what seemed like such a huge task became something not so intimidating.  I was able to model it for them, and then be there to help and instruct as they began to do it on their own.  Is it not the same thing Jesus did with his disciples?  This week I have been trying to rethink my ministry through these new lenses.  We are instructed as older believers to train those who are younger and somewhere along the way we have truly missed that.

Maybe it is one of the reasons so many young people are leaving the church.  We tell them we want them to grow up to be leaders but we continually tell them to wait until they are more mature, more knowledgeable, more gifted, more spiritual, more capable.  Who is supposed to make them more knowledgeable, more gifted, and more spiritual?  Leaders it is time to wake up.

It is no wonder our churches are not finding incredible young leaders.  We will never see an explosion of new young leaders until our older, “more mature leaders” see their responsibility to model for and coach the ones coming up behind them.

Tuesday my kids walked away saying interviewing people is not that difficult and I wonder if they might say the same thing about preaching, teaching, planning, budgeting, leading, greeting if we would simply model it for them and walk along side coaching them as they go. Just maybe it would change the world, AGAIN!