100 – Two tiny letters with massive impact [Podcast]

We need to master the use of the letters "N" and "O"

Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcast. I’m back from hiatus and excited about what’s ahead.  I’m also excited to reach the amazing milestone of releasing EPISODE ONE-DADGUM-HUNDRED!

In this episode, I’m talking about the massive impact possible when we master the use of the two tiny letters “n” and “o.”

Every pastor (and most leaders) have gotten requests to add something new (program, ministry, activity, resource).  Sometimes they come in the form of, “Pastor, God has put it on my heart that our church should …

How can we respond well?

8 Principles for Responding

  1. No” should be our default answer.  Give me a reason to say, “yes.”
  2. Filter every request through your church’s mission, vision, and values.  This is your big “YES” through which all requests must pass.
  3. No” doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done.  It means that you are not going to do it yourself, it is not going to become an official ministry of the church with people and financial resources and calendar priority.
  4. Don’t leave the impression that the door is open for the request at a later date.  “Not at this time” is not a clear response.
  5. Give people permission to do ministry and equip them with skills to fulfill their calling.  Make “equipping” a strategic priority rather than simply adding new programs and ministries.
  6. Make your mission, vision, and values so central that they become a way of thinking for your congregation.  If those things become your church’s identity, requests will not be for new things, but for ways to enhance what’s already happening.
  7. Develop strategic processes that keep your folks engaged in ministry.  Engaged and fulfilled people are not usually looking for something new.
  8. Constantly evaluate what you are doing.  The 4 Helpful Lists is a great tool.

Every “yes” requires you to say “no” to something else.  Choose wisely.


Every YES requires you to say NO to something else. Choose wisely. Click To Tweet


A Two Letter Bonus

The letters “n” and “o” are not simply used in the word “no.”  They can also be used in the word “on.”

When we understand ourselves, our strengths, our vision, and our “yes,” we then know what is “on.”

ON” ministries get full out support – financial resources, people resources, calendar priority, visibility, public celebration, passion.


Do you have questions about how to discover and implement your mission, vision, and values?  Or how to develop strategic processes?  Or how to move from telling and providing to training and equipping?

Send me an email and let’s talk


How you can help me help others:

  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes and give us a rating and review. 
  • We are also on Stitcher.com and Google Play, so if you prefer one of those formats, please subscribe there.
  • Share the love by clicking on one or more of the social share buttons at either the top or bottom of this post.

To comment on this episode or leave a question for a future episode:

1. Comment section below

2. Email: contactgerrylewis@gmail.com

3. Voicemail: 817-929-0643

4. Direct tweet @drgerrylewis

*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music for intro)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music for outro)

Becoming part of the IN crowd

A sequence of significance

photo credit: crowdfunduk

I wish I had paid better attention growing up. There are a lot of things I had to learn by trial and error as a grown-up that happened right in front of me as a youth, but I wasn’t interested. 

I expressed that thought to my step-father in a recent conversation.  One of those handy guys that can figure out how to fix just about anything, he could have taught me a lot in those early years.  But I was too busy and didn’t see the relevance of all that stuff, so it was faster and more efficient to do it himself. Unfortunately, the pattern continued and my grown-up son is having to learn things that I didn’t take the time to teach him either.

I’m not experiencing any regrets or angst over this;  just acknowledging lessons I wish I had learned earlier.  I think I learned—and passed on—the things that matter most.  But, if I had it to do again …

There are other lessons I wish I had learned earlier, especially as a young pastor.  Now that I spend time coaching and consulting pastors and church leaders, I am trying to pass on some of those.  I think they are also applicable to a broader vocational spectrum.

Everyone I know wants to experience vocational “success.”  We want to achieve and be noticed.  We want to be IN.  I am at the point in life where the desire for success has been replaced by the desire for significance. As I’ve been thinking about that today, I’ve thought of a sequence of significance that perhaps seems a little counterintuitive, but stay with me to the end.  To be a part of the significance IN crowd:

  • Make yourself IN-dispensable. Become the go-to person, the one who can be counted on.  Exceed expectations.  Under-promise and over-deliver. Demonstrate integrity and build trust.  Someone will be watching you and learning.
  • Make yourself IN-cognito. Getting noticed feels really good. It can be intoxicating, but those who remain IN-dispensible risk fatigue and burnout.  They can become control freaks who never elevate those around them. The idea of making yourself IN-cognito is that you are elevating and empowering those around you to the point that you are giving leadership, stepping in when necessary, but sharing both responsibility and recognition.


It may be quicker and more efficient to do it yourself, but it is more effective to empower others. Click To Tweet


  • Make yourself IN-visible. You know your effectiveness as a leader when success may be accomplished without your presence, when recognition goes to your team, when those you have taught advance beyond your abilities.

2 Timothy 2:2 (New International Version) says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” 

Our lives matter so much to God that He wants us involved IN His eternal purposes.  That’s good company.

Question: Where are you currently IN-dispensable?  IN-cognito?  IN-visible?

48 Days to the Work You Love (Revised Edition) (Nashville: B&H Books, 2010)

I recently spent several days listening to the unabridged audio book during my drive time.  I have been listening to Dan Miller’s podcast for several months and wanted to see if I could use this book as a resource to help people who are stuck in unemployment or unfulfilling employment. I found it to be practical, inspiring, and helpful to give people a nudge in the right direction.  Even though I am in many ways already doing the work I love, I got some good inspiration as well.

Click on the title above to purchase from Amazon.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012)


A year ago, I had never heard the name Michael Hyatt. He is now one of my major influencers.  I just finished this book a week or so ago, and it covers more aspects of sharing one’s message than I ever thought possible. At times during the reading I felt overwhelmed with information, but I never felt that Michael, the expert, was “talking down” to me, the novice. I am excited about using this information to share my message. 

If you have a message to share, this is full of ideas and resources.

Click on the book title at the top of the post to purchase.


Strengths Finder 2.0 (New York, NY: Gallup Press, 2007)



Do you find yourself always doing what needs to be done, or truly operating out of your strengths?  Tom Rath’s helpful book and assessment not only helps you identify and maximize your own strengths, but also gives strong suggestions on how to maximize the way you work with those who have other strengths.  The book contains a code for one free online assessment.  I read the book and took the assessment to learn my Top 5 Strengths.  I was not surprised by what I learned, but it helped some things make better sense to me, and I have some great resources for further study.  Click on the book title in the heading to purchase.

Just in case you are curious, my Top 5 are:

1. Strategic

2. Positivity

3. Maximizer

4. Empathy

5. Relator

I think I am right where I am supposed to be.