Notes From the Pepperdine Lectures – Tim Spivey pt. 3

Notes from the Pepperdine Bible Lectures – part three of Tim Spivey’s class on church revitalization/renewal.


  • Don’t highlight visitors. Don’t ask them to stand up, don’t ask them to wave, don’t call attention to them at all. They don’t want the attention!
  • Don’t make filling out a card the goal for visitors. Make bringing them back, maturing them, growing them spiritually your goal.


  • Excellence is a sign of maturity and health.
  • Excellence happens at the intersection of service and vision.
  • Church leaders must ask themselves, “Do we have a reputation of making sausage out of volunteers?” In churches, consistent excellence largely comes from taking care of volunteers.
  • “More is not better. Better is better.”
  • Don’t strive to do more things – strive to do the things you do decide to do excellently.

Importance of Media

  • Tim walks through several terrible PowerPoint presentations and contrasts them with good looking ones.
  • Poor looking media matters when it comes to reaching young families! Many church leaders reduce the importance of this, but that’s a mistake.
  • “If I’m in my 30s, I’m checking out your website before I visit your church. 40% of people who come to church today check you out on the web or another source before stepping foot through your door.”
  • If your website is terrible, they’ll likely not bother coming. It must “pop” visually.
  • Tim recommends signing up at – it’s $199.00 per year for a membership, and you get access to loads of professional quality media to use for PowerPoint presentations, print media (like your church bulletins), and your website.
  • The initial transition to making your media excellent will cost money (website, bulletin, stage design, etc.), but it’s well worth it!
  • Jim Collins: “Good is the enemy of great …” – we don’t have many “great” churches because too many are satisfied with “good” churches!

Emotional Triangle

  • Emotional triangle – when two people or parts of a system are uncomfortable with each other, they will seek a third party to stabilize their relationship.
  • Three people making up the triangle: 1) Offender (persecutor), 2) Offended (victim), 3) Rescuer (person the victim gossips with about the persecutor).
  • Rather than the victim speaking with the persecutor and resolving the problem, the victim runs to the rescuer and spills their guts.
  • The persecutor becomes a new victim, and the triangle multiplies as this new victim runs to another rescuer to talk about the other person (instead of talking to the other person).
  • Emotional Triangles are a mess and cause churches to divide!
  • Church leaders must be rigid about getting people to talk to one another, and not about one another.

Good Questions to Ask During the Hiring Process

  • Three C’s & One F: 1) Character, 2) Competency, 3) Chemistry, 4) Fit.
  • Character: Are they spiritually mature/healthy/growing?
  • Competency: Are they capable? Can they get the job done?
  • Chemistry: Do they play well in the sandbox with others? Will they get along with other staff members?
  • Fit: Does this person fit our church?

After They’re Hired

  • Treat them well. Expect the best from them, but treat them well!
  • The apostles weren’t persecuted by the church, they were persecuted by the pagans! Churches of Christ are a species that seem to like to eat their own young!
  • Treat them well and you have every right to ask them to perform their best.

Tips for Building Healthy Leadership Teams

  • Leadership dysfunction is the #1 affliction of Churches of Christ! Here are a few tips:
  • Clarify Roles – each staff member should know what their job is and what’s expected.
  • Guard the Gate – never bring in an elder who’s “good enough” – never bring in a staff member who’s “good enough.”
  • Ministers shouldn’t ask elders to treat them well while treating the elders poorly, and vice-versa.
  • Talk to, not about each other – if there’s a problem, say it to the person you have the problem with. Don’t gossip, don’t create emotional triangles.
  • Meet together regularly.
  • Review staff performance annually – this is not a review the staff person being evaluated should be present for. Elders honestly evaluate staff performance on an annual basis.
  • Be ruthlessly committed to one another’s success.
  • Set rules for what you will and won’t argue about.
  • Write things down that are said in meetings – this will keep everyone on the same page.
  • Develop a process for exiting dysfunctional members.

Concluding Miscellaneous Tips

  • Eliminate this phrase: “my church.” Get people to eliminate that sort of language/attitude.
  • Eliminate this phrase as it pertains to assemblies: “private devotion to the Lord” (as in during the Lord’s Supper). We don’t meet corporately to have “private” devotion time with the Lord. If people want private time with God, tell them to do it in their homes. Assemblies are about coming together with the body … not quiet time.
  • Church bylaws need to be rewritten every few years. Do not allow them to become outdated.
  • Rotate volunteers to avoid burnout.
  • Staff should be involved in the hiring process – do not form a committee of non-ministers to hire new staff when you have trained professionals at your disposal.
  • Be CAREFUL hiring – all it takes is one bad apple to tank a church.
  • Making the five guys who get the most votes elders is a TERRIBLE/RECKLESS process for elder selection.

Phew, that was a lot. Great class, Tim!

For more like this, visit Tim’s blog here or listen to his preaching here.

If you’re interested in ordering audio or video recordings from the 2010 Pepperdine Bible Lectures, go here.

More notes from the 2011 Pepperdine Bible Lectures coming soon … stay tuned to this website, or subscribe to to get the latest updates in your inbox or favorite reader.

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One thought on “Notes From the Pepperdine Lectures – Tim Spivey pt. 3

  1. “Review staff performance annually – this is not a review the staff person being evaluated should be present for. Elders honestly evaluate staff performance on an annual basis.”

    Wes, thanks so much for sharing these highlights! I find the above phrase interesting and a little scary. While I believe an evaluation is necessary, I’m not sure we want to boot out the minister while evaluating him. If there are problems, they should: 1) have already been discussed as soon as they happened and 2) First brought to the minister in person. For example, I told my elders that any problems they have with me should be left out of my evaluation because the biblical example is to go to me when it arises. When Paul rebuked Peter, I’m not sure he called in the other 10 apostles and had a meeting to critique peter and then invited him in so they could jump him in unity. Rather, Paul called him out in the moment. I feel that performance reviews should be discussed with the staff present. If they can’t say it to me first and in person, they probably shouldn’t be saying it.

    Not to pick on you (as I know you did not teach the class), or to pick on the speaker. I realize this has been a problem and practice in the majority of churches. I just have a hard time believing it is something Jesus would have promoted.

    Thanks for listening and commenting bro!

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