Pause, Stop, and Refresh

“The best leaders understand the difference between a tension you manage versus a tension you resolve,” according to Andy Stanley.

Leadership isn’t easy. Every decision you make earns the favor of some and the disfavor of others. Some are happy and others are not. Most leaders end up avoiding tense situations and allow them to grow into full blown conflicts.

Your ability to discern the difference between tensions you manage verses tensions you resolve “may determine the level of success a leader can sustain,” according to Ron Edmondson. Do yourself a favor and check out Ron Edmondson’s post, “7 everyday tensions of every leader must manage.”

  1. Displaying confidence without being arrogant.
  2. Making bold decisions while building collaboration.
  3. Showing strength while displaying compassion.
  4. Controlling energy towards a vision but allowing individuals to chart their path.
  5. Celebrating victory while not resting on current success.
  6. Learning from other leaders but being who you were uniquely wired to be.
  7. Spending time with people versus completing tasks.

As a leader, what tension do you face, and how do you manage or resolve it?

What to do When There’s Bad Blood

Mars Hill Mobile App
November 15, 2015

Bad Blood is defined as having unpleasant feelings or animosity between people.

No matter how badly you want peace, there are some relationships that may never be fully restored. But doing this one thing can help you find peace about any relationship.

Bad Blood

Photo Credit: Twibbon

If you’ve ever experienced “Bad Blood” in a relationship and want to know what to do, find a quite place and listen to “Bad Blood.”   You will laugh, think, and come away with a solid strategy. You can CLICK HERE to listen NOW!

I’d love to hear your thoughts?

#PrayFirst | Day 6

Pray For Your Family and Friends

Welcome to Day 6 of our #PrayFirst Campaign!

For One Week, we will pray for One Minute every hour about One Topic as One Church to One God! Pray for the first 60 seconds of every hour and watch God bless the other 59 minutes! There is power when God’s people pray in unity. Join us as we answer Jesus’ prayer “May they be ONE” (John 17:21).

#PrayFirst FAMILY

If you’d like to know more about our #PrayFirst Campaign you can:

  1. Click HERE to read the overview
  2. You can read our Day One Devotional on Faith HERE
  3. You can read our Day Two Family Devotional HERE
  4. You can read our Day Three Finance Devotional HERE
  5. You can read our Day Four Facilities Devotional HERE
  6. You can read our Day Five Fulfillment Devotional HERE

#PRP – People Reaching People

At the Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago, our theme for 2015 is People Reaching People (#PRP). Jesus commissioned the church to continue His ministry of reconciliation to the lost; and He both modeled and taught a strategic formula that would facilitate that great endeavor. Scripture has a word for this – Evangelism (Outreach).

Evangelism (Outreach)

Evangelism is the act of telling the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. It’s derived from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “gospel” or “good news.”

The verbal forms of euangelizo, meaning “to bring” or “to announce good news” occur some 55 times (Acts 8:4,25,35; 11:20) and are normally translated with the appropriate form of the word “preach.” Evangelism has to do with the proclamation of the message of good news.*

From the beginning, God has consistently focused on a specific group, as his initial target for evangelism. That is, He primarily perpetuates His Kingdom through those close relational connections that we all have, those eight to fifteen people He strategically placed around each one of us.

Throughout the New Testament, whenever God’s Spirit changed a life, a world changer was born. Whether it was a demon possessed man, a swindler named Zacchaeus, a royal official with a dying son, a tax collector named Matthew, a Centurion named Cornelius, a businesswoman named Lydia or a recently unemployed Philippian jailor, they all were sent back home to their close relational connections. Again, Scripture has a word for this – Oikos.

Mars Hill’s Outreach Strategy

Oikos, the Greek word for “extended family,” encompasses our relational worlds—anywhere from eight to fifteen people, on the average, whom God has supernaturally and strategically placed in our circles of influence. And, if those relationships frame our primary evangelistic targets, then that reality must frame the strategy for our church.

Pray for Your Circle of Influence – Family and Friends

Make a commitment to pray daily for your circle of influence – your family and friends. Write their names down and pray:

LORD, I pray that they (CALL THEIR INDIVIDUAL NAMES) would sense God’s presence in their lives and that You would draw each one to You. Lord, I offer myself to You every day as an instrument in this process. In Jesus’ name. Amen

*G. William Schweer, Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), s.v. “EVANGELISM,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

A Tribute To My Wife – Happy Anniversary!

I would like to think it was easy to be married to me for 21 years but my wife’s commitment to be with me drew her into a life of many challenges. Don’t misunderstand, we’ve been blessed in many ways and we’ve had many good years together. Yet the life of a Pastor (or being married to him) is not easy. Shortly into married life, as I was still training for ministry, I became a co-pastor and we enjoyed a brief time in ministry. Then the opportunity came to transition to senior pastor in May 1999.  We are still here and Mars Hill has grown exponentially.

Marriage Pic

June 27, 1992
Jackson, Mississippi

What I Learned From Watching ‘Scandal’

Like many, I eagerly anticipated the airing of the show Scandal. Whenever I see beautiful, African Americans who are power players in our Nation’s capital, I’m excited.  So, like millions, I was glued to the TV wondering what would happen to Hollis, will Fitz divorce his wife, and would Olivia & Edison become a permanent item.

Scandal Photo


If you’re a fan of the show, you may be offended if you continue reading.

With all the strong television shows for women, I don’t know why a beautiful, African American women forsakes a relationship with an African American Senator (Edison) for a married man (President Fitz).

I know why…love makes you do crazy things & act out of character.

Before you go sucking your teeth, rolling your eyes and calling me self-righteous, hear me out. I think there is an opportunity here to encourage the writers of the show to be bold and courageous.

I am rooting for the show to succeed, but, the creators have to be fearless and let Olivia Pope not be another man’s mistress. She’s too beautiful, too strong, and too smart for that.  I say let Olivia Pope control the interactions with her lovers. Don’t allow her to be a woman of straw that bends in whatever direction her lover needs. Additionally, I’d love to see her relationship with Edison grow into a beautiful picture of a healthy/strong relationship.

Finally, If not Edison, Olivia needs a new love interest and assert her independence from Fitz.  People seem to be ignoring the fact Olivia is having an affair with a married man.  In my humble opinion, that isn’t romantic…it’s actually tragic and pathetic.


At the end of the day Olivia goes home to her apartment ALONE and single…hardly an equal relationship.

What are your thoughts about today’s post?

Hello world!

Welcome back to my blog!

This is my personal blog. It is focused on “empowering people to live an abundant life.” My mission is to help you connect life’s dots while passionately pursuing your purpose. I write on personal development, leadership, finance, relationships, inspiration, and motivation. On occasion, I write about stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into one of these categories.

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My goal is to create insightful, relevant content that you can put to work in your personal and professional life. If you are in a position of leadership—or aspire to be—then this blog is for you. I typically post two to three times a week. To make sure you don’t miss my newest posts, you can subscribe via RSS feed

Thanks for stopping by!

TWO churches in ONE Location – How So?

Quick!  How do you keep the attention of a generation of church goers eternally distracted by the internet, cellphones, and technology.  You make technology your friend – you leverage it for the Glory of God.

Mars Hill – TWO Churches in ONE Location

As much as I hate to admit it, in reality, I pastor TWO distinct congregations.  Since we began offering additional worship experiences, I’ve noticed they’ve morphed into two very distinct, different, and unique congregations.  We’re still Mars Hill – now we’re TWO churches in ONE location.  How did that happen?

8AM Classic Worship Experience

Older church goers, business-types, and families with older/adult children mainly attend our Our 8AM Worship Experience.  It’s early, convenient, and 60-90 minutes long.  They enjoy softer music and love to reflect on the music and message.  It fits their lifestyle and they primarily want worship and the Word!  Period!  However, it’s quite different during our 10:30AM experience.

The Number One Rule of Dating (Break it & You'll Regret It)!

The beauty and challenge of pastoring an urban, thriving, and large congregation are the number of singles who attend.

Our church is filled with people who’ve never been married, recently divorced, and widows.  Since I counsel them all, most are eager to get back into the game before they’re healthy and ready.  Since I’m a pastor, I approach dating from a biblical perspective and having a relationship with God is a given.  However, since I like to keep it real and relevant, I decided to strip away the layers and give it to you – “straight up – no chaser.”

If you’re dating…considering dating…I advise you to NEVER break this rule for anyone:

If a man or woman doesn’t like you for who you are, just stop.

Why?  If you have to change who you are to attract, or keep them, you are cheating both yourself and them.

Whoop, there it is (Man, I’m showing my age).  What are your thoughts?  Sound off?

An Open Letter To The Greatest Members – PERIOD!

God blessed me with an opportunity most pastors rarely experience – an opportunity to pastor a large and thriving congregation that grows daily (Acts 2:42-47). I’m humbled because I had a strong and solid foundation to build upon. Although our church experienced many changes, for the most part, our members remain supportive, prayerful, and committed.

As a family, we’ve experienced setbacks, disappointments, and trials, however, we’ve remained true to our mission, values, and vision. Although we’ve accomplished much, there’s more God wants us to accomplish and we are uniquely positioned participate in expanding God’s Kingdom.

Therefore, I want the world to know how proud I am to serve as your pastor.

Dear Family,

There are people in this world we hardly notice. There are people in our circle of friends we rarely observe. But you are different.

Because of your significant contribution to our church family, your dedicated service to the Lord Jesus Christ through our local body of believers, I’m writing this letter to say a big “Thank you.” I want you to know that your devotion does not go unnoticed.

You are there when we need you. You are available at extra times, and best of all, you back up what you do with a life of faith. I value your ministry among us.

With heartfelt gratitude, I put into words in this letter what has long been in my heart.

With best regards,

Pastor Clarence E. Stowers, Jr.

Senior Pastor
Mars Hill Baptist Church of Chicago

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2).

Why Are Churches Still Segregated In 2010?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog series entitled “Jungle Fever.” This series took a look at the racial differences between African-American and White churches.  This series touched on how churches are still segregated and it appears this dynamic won’t change soon.  Additionally, I shared the differences between black preachers and white preachers.  Finally, I touched on how remarkably different blacks and whites dress when they attend worship.  It was a great series that generated several comments.  You can read more about it HERE.

There are many reasons why Sunday mornings continue to be the most segregated day of the week.  This video excerpt from the documentary, “Baptists and Racism,” attempts to address some of them.

Why do you think the Body of Christ remains segregated so many decades after the civil rights movement?  In my opinion, any time you call upon the majority group to divest themselves of power and influence, you’ll have fear, insecurity, and skepticism.  In short, they’ll passively sabotage any progress towards inclusion and multiculturalism.

Question: What do you believe are the fundamental reasons churches are segregated?