Serve The City: Barriers to Bridges



I attended a Serve The City luncheon where my good friend, Ken Roberts, was speaking to leaders of our city and the church community. He has spoken at Serve The City on 3 separate occasions over the years. Ken was a Senior Pastor for 25 years in Cleveland, Ohio. In Cleveland, they have a similar community network like Serve The City called Harvest Net that Ken was part of for many years. Those leaders prayed for revival in Cleveland and that city is still on the cutting edge of church leadership. I think Ken is one of them – a cutting-edge kind of leader! He is always pushing for the next and championing the growth of people where ever he goes. He is a great teacher and has insight that is truly needed for our times and for what is ahead. I am always glad to have the opportunity to hear his message. He certainly does not disappoint. Hold on to your seats.


Ken speaks the message his life is expressing.  I believe the reason that he is so good at what he does is that he can articulate this very clearly. Here are the 3 areas that he called his sweet spot.

  1. Living A Fruitful Life
  2. Live Well While Leading Well
  3. Ongoing Health & Growth

Before Ken spoke several men stood up and thanked Serve The City for being a light in the darkness. They were referring to a natural disaster that occurred 10 years ago in our city. Serve The City has continued to partner with the city of Cedar Rapids and the continued growth that we have gone through since a major flood hit in 2008. It was the mobilization of the men and women of Serve The City, that our city, can proudly say that we did not lose one life that day. Cities across the world cannot say that about the disasters that have happened in their areas.

Ken had us applaud what was accomplished and applaud the leadership, then he said, “We honor the past but we don’t want to get stuck in the present and miss where we are heading next!”  

Here we go: What’s Next and How Do We Get There!

Ken was in rapid fire mode and I love how clear he is when he speaks! He said that no business, no leadership, no organization goes or grows straight up. There is always plateaus, inclines, declines, and barriers. We have to learn how to press through the barriers so that they become bridges. When we hit a barrier we have to work through it. Ken said, “You have to become who you need to be for the next level.” – Tweet That!

You have to become who you need to be for the next level.Ken Roberts

That kind of growth comes through struggle. Ken shared with us how to break through the barriers in two areas – personal & organizational


  1. Heart Barriers: God always works from the inside out. Ask yourself if there are any barriers in your heart. (ungratefulness, anger, jealousy, envy, malice) These things hold you back.
  2. Head Barriers: All growth starts in our head after a heart change. What barriers do you have in your mind? Imagine you are writing on a brick and name them. ( lies, small thinking, trust issues, scarcity, poverty minded) Change has to start here!
  3. Skills Development: What got you to one level won’t get you to the next level, continue to develop your skills.
  4. Personal Discipline: Where are you wasting time? ( Tv watching, late sleeping, scrolling social media) If you want to get better get disciplined!
  5. Relational Barriers: 5 of that closest people to you tells you what level you are on. If you want to go to a new level then get some new people in your circle.

Ken asked us which one of those 5 stands out to you right now? Information apart from the application is nothing. Work on the one that the Spirit is highlighting to you!


  1. Re-Listen to God:  Pause long enough so that you do not assume as you look to the future that you know what you are doing. Re-listen to one another in regards to the next season. The longer we go (doing the same things) the greater the tendency we have to decline to mere human activity.
  2. Re-Clarify your Why: What is your why? What is the vision? What is the mission? What is the target? Why does this organization exist? What we need is clarity!
  3. Re-Align your How: What is the strategy? How will you accomplish that why? If you throw marbles onto a table they go everywhere. You have to know where you are heading. No one needs more activity. We need that clarity to launch how to accomplish the mission.
  4. Re-Commit your Cause: Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Anti-up or Back off. Be clearly yes or clearly no. If you are a leader you know how frustrating it is to deal with people who won’t be clear on their commitment. Be in or be out! Choose!

We are all dealing with one of these 4 things right now:

  • We are Busy
  • We are Growing
  • We are in a time of Acceleration
  • We are in Crisis

Ken gave a word of Caution: Be careful and aware of what is happening in your heart when you choose your yes or no. You do not want to cultivate envy, jealousy, mistrust, or offense by your unwillingness to state clearly yes or no.  Instead, ask yourself some questions. Is it worth my time and energy? What’s in it for me and for the organization I lead? Then make your choice. You can not row in a straight line with someone who is not committed to rowing the boat and neither can anyone else.

Where are you? Have you hit a plateau? Do you have barriers in your heart? head? relationship? It’s time to push through the barriers!

Thanks for Listening,




Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

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