Author Archives: John Burke

About John Burke

John Burke is the lead pastor at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. He is the author of No Perfect People Allowed and Soul Revolution, How Imperfect People Become All God Intended . John founded ELI to mobilize leaders who would raise the church up out of the culture while maintaining biblical integrity. Before starting Gateway, John was the executive director of ministries at Willow Creek Community Church. He and his wife Kathy are the parents of two children, Ashley and Justin. You can follow him at: Facebook: John Burke Facebook Visit John's blog at

10 Lessons, from John

Creating something out of nothing is challenging, but this is the only way we can really see the culture become the church. I want to see people grow and be unified as a church, but I always want to start with those who are not the church, with the culture around us, relationally connecting life-by-life.

These 10 lessons I’ve learned have been how God has change lives, that in turn impacted a neighborhood, and now influence a city and the world:


1. People Matter Enough to be Reminded
Realize that it’s not about you – it’s about a world that’s on a slide going south away from God. If you forget that, you’ll take things personally. Remember that good things don’t just naturally happen. People left alone don’t tend to seek God. People left alone don’t tend to stretch themselves to grow in faith or stretch to give money and time to those less-fortunate. It takes energy. As a leader, part of that energy is to remind people.


2. Never Waste a Gathering
No matter what the gathering is for – serve kids, have a party, small group, bike ride, or building houses – pay attention to not wasting it. Have fun first. Create life and people will want to come back. Cast vision and orient people to what they can expect. Always give next-steps. Every gathering is about connecting to community, but people need steps along the way.


3. Tell Stories to Shape Values
A story tells everybody “this is who we are and this is what matters.”


4. Connect Others Constantly
Give people enough time, and they’ll want to hang with their group and forget new people. Watch for people who might be feeling left out at every gathering. People feel valued and loved as people take interest in them.


5. Don’t Be Afraid to Have a Big “Ask”
Challenge people to grow spiritually. Many times God’s spirit prompts us but we “do the person a favor” by saying “no” for them. We’re potentially closing someone off from a life with God. That’s not a favor. You have to overcome that fear and make big asks.


6. Serve Well Together
Getting people serving creates ownership. When you serve together serve well.


7. Be Generous with Praise and Encouragement
You can’t hire enough people to do all the work. You need volunteers. Generous praise and encouragement is how you pay them.


8. Ask “Who’s Next, What’s Next?”
You’re only as strong as your next new leader, so always be looking for the “relative” leaders – the ones giving a little bit more. Sometimes their lives are messy. Think about how to help them take next steps of growth.


9. If Your Unchurched Friends and Neighbors are not Becoming the Church, You’re Ineffective
This is one of my most significant lessons. If people are not becoming the church — and LEADING the church – within 3 to 5 years, you’re not being effective. When you start to see this happen, when you the church being raised up out of culture, just as it happened in Corinth, Athens, Rome. That’s exciting!


10. Don’t Do This Without God (It’s His mission, your adventure)
This is really the first one. This is His mission and your adventure. You can’t do this without God.