Our New Book Releases September 16th

My wife Karen and I are incredibly excited to announce that we have recently co-authored a book together. On September 16th, 2014, we are officially releasing Unexpected: What to Do When Life Disrupts Your Plans.

Unexpected - Book CoverEverybody Encounters the Unexpected! Whether it’s losing a job, receiving a bad report from a doctor, a late-night phone call, a relationship ending, a financial setback, or a dashed dream, “unexpected” shows up in unwelcome ways. Sometimes it feels like it’s raining rocks, and we’re doing our best to dodge a fatal blow. The question is, how do we respond when life unexpectedly disrupts our plans?

“An invaluable, honest and practical look at how we should respond when unexpected disruptions happen in our lives. This affirming message of hope and healing is a must read!”John McKinzie
Lead Pastor, Hope Fellowship, Frisco, Texas

In Unexpected, we share our personal stories of two traumatic disruptions. Karen shares how her peace was stolen during a robbery when five young men broke into her house, and then dragged her out of the shower at gunpoint. I share my journey of simultaneous congestive heart failure and pulmonary failure despite years of annual check-ups with good reports.

From our stories of unexpected disruption, we share seven valuable takeaways that we’ve learned along the way:

  • Prayer
  • Trust
  • Perspective
  • Family
  • Community
  • Purpose
  • Legacy  

Each insight is extremely practical, and each chapter sheds transparent light on the ups and downs of our journey. Whether you’re navigating an unexpected disruption, or your life is going great, these practical insights will inspire hope, offer wisdom, and deepen your faith.

“When life disrupts your plans – and it will – how will you respond? Karen and Stephen Blandino have walked through deep valleys of disruption and emerged with truth that will help you face your own times of pain and loss. Take advantage of their hard-won perspective for facing the unexpected setbacks and traumas in your own life.”Daniel Allen
Dr. Daniel Allen, Leadership Coach and author of Summoned: Stepping Up to Live and Lead with Jesus.

Unexpected will be available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million.

The Miracle of My Heart Failure

On Sunday, March 16, 2014, I concluded two morning services at 7 City Church followed by a great lunch with several new guests. I walked back to my car at a brisk pace when I suddenly felt the cold air burn my lungs. It felt strange, but nothing alarming. Little did I know that my journey toward congestive heart failure had begun.

Actually, the journey started 15 years earlier when I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse, a condition that affects approximately three percent of the population where the flaps of the Mitral valve don’t properly close. While first detected during a normal doctor visit, my doctor told me I may have been born with the defect. The situation wasn’t life threatening, and he recommended an annual check-up to monitor my condition.

After several years, a daily medical prescription was added to my routine along with an annual EKG and Echocardiogram (and sometimes others tests, too). Year after year the results were the same: no change. That was a good thing. My doctors said eventually I would need surgery, but there was no need for surgery until noticeable changes in my condition became evident. My last heart check-up was just nine days before the events of March 16th. Again, “all was well.”

On that Sunday afternoon, things took a very sudden and unexpected change. I went home from a great morning at 7 City and tried to get some rest. As the evening progressed, I wondered if I might be coming down with the flu.

I once asked my doctor how I would know if I “needed” surgery. He said I would notice an immediate shortness of breath. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. My breathing was more difficult, but I didn’t feel like I couldn’t catch my breath. Karen asked me if we should go to the ER. We even checked my pulse rate and it seemed to be in the normal range. She was just concluding a two-week struggle with a severe sinus infection, so I wanted to make sure both of us got some rest.

By 6:00 am Monday, things were worse. “I think you need to take me to the ER,” I said. A relatively smaller branch of a hospital ER had opened just a few miles from our house. We knew we could get in quickly.

Within a few minutes of entering the ER, the doctor said, “Are you sure this just started yesterday afternoon?” I assured him it had. The concern in his voice was clear: “Something serious is going on.” His concern was pneumonia because my lungs were not clear. He said, “We’re not going to be able to treat you here. We need to get you to Harris Southwest or Harris Downtown right away. We’ll call an ambulance to transport you. Which hospital do you prefer?”

My first inclination was to say, “Harris Downtown.” I figured they were the larger hospital and would be the best place to go. But Karen said, “Harris Southwest.” I later discovered that was God’s providence.

The ambulance arrived and transported me to Harris Hospital Southwest. The medical team was awaiting my arrival. Again, after a short conversation, they asked, “Are you sure this just started yesterday afternoon.” I assured them it had, and pointed to my associate pastor who was sitting in the room: “Ask him,” I said. Klen was fully aware of my day, and he knew I felt good during our services and guest lunch.

By this time my breathing was visibly strained and difficult. Again, they suspected Pneumonia, and I felt like I was beginning to drown. As the doctors monitored my progress, they noticed the irregularity of my heartbeat. I told them, “I have Mitral Valve Prolapse. Just last week I had my annual check-up and everything was good.” Then I said, “My cardiologist is Dr. Parrish, and his office is located at this hospital.” They ordered an Echocardiogram and then called Dr. Parrish to evaluate my condition.

Within minutes, Dr. Parrish looked at my Echocardiogram and said,

“You don’t have Pneumonia. One of the cords to your Mitral valve has snapped. This is serious. You need heart surgery. I’m calling Care Flight to have you transported immediately to the Heart Center downtown.”

My New Book, Creating Your Church’s Culture, Releases Today

CYCC BookMy new book, Creating Your Church’s Culture, releases today. You can purchase Creating Your Church’s Culture on Amazon or on Kindle.

Every church has a unique culture defined by its vision, systems, relationships, behaviors, and leaders. When the culture is healthy, it delivers consistently healthy outcomes that advance the mission of the church. But when cultures are unhealthy, or worse, toxic, they perpetuate constant dysfunction and derail the church’s purpose. To steer out of mediocrity and into a thriving culture with fully engaged employees and volunteers, pastors and church leaders need a clear roadmap with proven insights for change.

In Creating Your Church’s Culture, I give you the tools and strategies to move out of mediocrity into a healthy and energizing culture. You’ll learn how to:

  • Define your culture
  • Activate the Culture Equation
  • Hire staff that fit your culture
  • Infuse your values into your culture
  • Create a learning culture
  • Develop effective systems
  • Increase employee and volunteer engagement
  • Measure the health of your culture
  • Uproot bureaucracy

If you’re a lead pastor, executive pastor, business administrator, staff pastor, church leader, HR director, non-profit leader or simply want to invest in the health of your church or organization, Creating Your Church’s Culture will help you take your next step. It also includes a practical assessment and implementation guide to help you apply what you’re learning.

You can purchase Creating Your Church’s Culture on AMAZON or on KINDLE.


What Others are Saying about Creating Your Church’s Culture

“Concise, strategic, and practical! Stephen Blandino gives you the roadmap you need to develop a healthy organizational culture with fully engaged team members.”

– SCOTT WILSON, Pastor of The Oaks Fellowship and author of Ready, Set, Grow: 3 Conversations that Will Bring Lasting Growth to Your Church

“Too often we make leading a church more complicated than it ought to be. Creating Your Church’s Culture is an honest look at how to accomplish the mission of the church with more simplicity. Readable, practical, and insightful.”

– JEFF GALLEY, Team Leader for Life Groups and Missions, LifeChurch.tv

“Every church has a culture—some are toxic and some are life-giving. Life-giving cultures produce healthy, growing people. In Creating Your Church’s Culture, Stephen Blandino draws on his personal experience and research to produce a blueprint for developing a healthy culture. Easy to read, and filled with practical ideas, this book will help you implement the essential steps to create a healthy culture in your church.”

– DARIUS JOHNSTON, Lead Pastor, Christ Church, Ft. Worth, TX

“I am very excited to recommend Creating Your Church’s Culture. The author, Stephen Blandino is an experienced consultant, coach, and ministry practitioner with extensive experience in multiple church ministry contexts. He has served as a church staff member, executive pastor, and now is serving as the Lead pastor of a church plant. I was able to read the book in two settings. It’s filled with practical information and “how to” knowledge. I recommend this book to every church planter and, for that matter, any leader that is working to move a church to the next level.”

– DAVE MCNAUGHTON, Church Planting Catalyst and Coach and Team Leader for Church Multiplication Network

“Whether you’re seeking wisdom on how to develop a thriving culture for a brand new organization or looking for ways to recreate the current culture of your organization, Stephen Blandino’s Creating Your Church’s Culture provides you with the necessary tools to build a healthy culture that will allow your organization to flourish.”

– JESSIE PRINCE, Executive Pastor, Grace Outreach Center, Plano, TX

Purchase Creating Your Church’s Culture today on Amazon or on Kindle.

7 City Church: What’s in a Name?

7 City ChurchIn January 2012, Stephen and I began a journey to plant a church in an urban part of Ft. Worth, Texas called “West Seventh.” You can learn more about our church planting vision here. This endeavor began with Stephen developing a prayer list of 10 specific, bold prayers that we felt were essential for this church plant.

Number 8 on the list was a name for the church: “Pray that God will give us a name for the church that captures the heart and vision of the church and connects with our target audience.” By “target audience,” we mean the area where God has called us to serve. At the time we felt this prayer would come naturally and easily…we had no idea it would take 6 months!

Being a research nerd at heart, we decided to begin the process by examining how other churches developed their name. Unfortunately, there is little information published, but the few articles and blogs we found provided some great information to start with:

1. The Word “Church” – We wanted to have the word “Church” in our name. This was something that the research showed us as imperative. People like to know what type of business/industry/facility they are visiting. No reason to leave people wondering what is going on inside your building.

2. Geography – We did not want to be land-locked geographically to an area. We needed a name that would tie in with the greater community and allow us to relocate in the future without changing our name.

3. Avoiding Fads – We had to avoid cheesy, popular names of the moment. Although there are some great name ideas, we had been in youth ministry for 11 years and knew we did not want a name that would sound like a youth group. In addition, we hoped for a name that would last beyond our tenure.

4. Web & Social Media Dilemmas – We had to make sure Facebook, Twitter, website .com, .net or .org, and other social media names were available. For some names this was easy, for others not so much.

5. Short & Catchy – The name needed to be short and catchy – in other words “brandable”. I know we are not Starbucks or Apple, but having a short, concise, and catchy name makes it so much easier to develop a logo and signage and to communicate the name.

Our next step was to research names of healthy urban churches across the country. It was exciting to see so many churches doing what we hoped to do in Ft. Worth. I loved how many of the churches used the city’s culture or an unusual biblical reference to inspire their name.

This part of the research helped us funnel down our next step in the name. We really liked two words “city” and “urban” and wondered how we could use one of them in the church’s name? Urban is a great word and is being redefined in many parts of society, but after polling the word to different generations and researching urban logo designs, we really felt the word “City” would be a better fit. So now we had “City” and “Church”, but we still needed the hook word, that would help drive our vision.

Over the next few weeks, we would pray, toss out ideas, pray some more, toss out more ideas, research more, but unfortunately, we hit a wall and nothing felt right. I had a friend share with me that the right name would “feel like giving birth.” You would know it deep down and it would resonate with the church.

Late one evening in June, Stephen and I were sitting in bed with our laptops (nothing like church planter office hours) and we had been researching for over two hours. I remember the evening so clearly. Stephen was looking down when he quietly said “City Church”, “Seven City Church”. When he said this, I could feel it and sense it in my spirit…that was the name!  For the next few days we mulled over it and shared it with friends.

We were so excited – God had answered our prayer perfectly! Our vision is to see cities transformed by inspiring community and influencing culture. The word “Seven” captured our vision so clearly:

1. It helped tie us to the greater community that the church is located in without land locking us for future growth.

2. Seven means complete and perfect – our prayer is for Ft. Worth to be a complete and whole city.

3. There are 7 areas of culture we pray to influence – business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and the social sector.

You can learn more about our vision for 7 City Church at www.7citychurch.com. Check out our Facebook and Twitter links too. And if you’re another church planter trying to find the right name for your church, hopefully our journey will be an encouragement to you.

This post was written by Karen Blandino. You can follow Karen on Twitter here or check out her Facebook page here.   


GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution


My New Book is Coming in August

I cannot tell you how excited I am about the upcoming release of my new book, GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution. Writing is both a calling and a passion for me, and the message in this book has been cooking inside of me for well over twelve years. I’m so glad to finally share it with you.

So What’s the Message?

Do you feel stuck? Is your personal growth on pause? Is the gap growing larger between where you are and where you want to be? Do you want to help others grow but you don’t know where to start? My new book equips you to unlock your personal growth and inspire a growth revolution in others.

Whether you’re just starting your growth journey, you’re a lifelong learner with an unquenchable appetite for growth, or you’re somewhere in between, GO! will help you to:

  • Identify and close the gap between you and your dreams
  • Access the three on-ramps to personal growth
  • Create a customized personal growth TRAC
  • Experience the power of the five levels of personal growth
  • Embrace the five GO! Practices that take personal growth to an entirely new level
  • Leverage your personality type to grow to your full potential
  • Make intentional investments in others by using six growth deposits

GO! will not only challenge you to grow yourself and the people you influence, but it will also equip you with the tools to turn growth potential into reality. Whether you’re a pastor, coach, teacher, leader, HR professional, student, or you simply want to take your personal growth to a new level, GO! is your roadmap to get there.

What Others Are Saying About GO!

“Some books are written to inform, and others to inspire, still others to motivate you to action. In GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution author Stephen Blandino does all three. You will learn, grow and move forward. The concepts are real-life and the strategies, if followed, will actualize your full capacity potential.”

– DR. SAMUEL R. CHAND, Leadership Coach, Consultant, and Author of Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code

“Anybody who wants to become all that God wants them to be has to read GO! Stephen hits the nail on the head on how we develop personally so that we can maximize our God given potential!”

– HERBERT COOPER, Lead Pastor, People’s Church, Oklahoma City

“In business I’m always looking for a competitive edge, and in GO! Starting a Personal Growth Revolution Stephen Blandino gives you that edge. Through the five levels of personal growth you create a pathway for personal growth both for yourself and the people you lead. This book is one you’ll actually implement the wisdom it contains.”

– BILL BARNETT, Nationally Syndicated Radio Host and the Best Selling Author of Are You DUMB Enough to be RICH?

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of GO! upon its upcoming release. If you want to get the latest news on my new book, sign up in the top right margin to get email updates.


We’re Launching a New Church Sunday, September 16, 2012

Today we want to share with you some BIG NEWS! On Sunday, September 16th, 2012, Karen and I are launching a new church in the Downtown/West 7th area of Fort Worth, Texas. God has been preparing us for this transition, and we are humbled by the doors He has recently opened (Check out the video below to hear more).

In the past few years, thousands of people have returned to Fort Worth’s West 7th cultural arts district and the Downtown area. And in the coming years, Fort Worth will open a new river walk area around Downtown with room for 25,000 more people to move into the heart of the city. Voted as having one of the top 10 downtowns in the United States, Fort Worth is booming with housing, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

We have a vision to see cities transformed by inspiring community and influencing culture. Imagine a church that shapes the future of societies locally and globally. Imagine a church that mentors and mobilizes emerging generations to create the future. Imagine a church that redeems people to Christ and restores societies to their God-intended design. We know we cannot change a city alone. It takes a team of churches, leaders, and Christ-followers to see transformation in the heart of these cultural hubs. Together we can change a city.

We have already secured a building at 2900 W. Lancaster. This 14,800 square foot facility (pictured above) is strategically located in the heart of the action.

Surrounded by new condos and lofts, this building is only blocks away from restaurants, entertainment venues, museums, the Movie Tavern, and Montgomery Plaza in the West 7th area of Fort Worth.

Christ Church in Fort Worth, Texas is mothering the church (we’ll reveal the new church’s name soon). Pastor Darius Johnston and the Christ Church team have committed to support our launch to see a church planted in this growing area of Fort Worth.

We would like to invite you to partner with us in PRAYER, GIVING, and GOING to help launch this church:

  • PRAY – Click here to request our latest prayer list or to join our prayer team.
  • GIVE – Click here to make a secure donation via Christ Church’s online giving option – be sure to put “Downtown Church” in the “Other” description box.
  • GO – Click here if you’re interested in being a part of this new church or would like to request more information.

Thank you for your support as we move into this new chapter of our lives. We look forward to keeping you posted as our journey continues.


Alan Danielson and Triple-Threat Leadership

One of the essential keys to effective leadership is cranking up the heat on your core values and key practices. This weekend we had small groups coach and consultant Alan Danielson speak to our small group leaders about “Getting off the Couch” and being missional. For some time we’ve wanted to elevate this missional value in our groups and Alan totally helped us accomplish that goal. His passion for people without Christ and his deep belief for missional groups helped us raise the temperature of groups being on-mission with God. And our leaders totally got it. The comments shared by our leaders after his presentation were revealed a significantly heightened vision for impacting the community.  

Monday was a great day as well. Alan presented his “Triple-Threat Leadership” workshop to our staff and helped us understand the non-negotiable components of vision, strategy, and relationships in the arena of leadership. His assessment pinpointed our unique leadership styles and Alan provided some valuable coaching in the process. It was a great launching pad for discussion as each member of our team reflected on our leadership default buttons and what we must do to move toward the center of effective leadership. 

If you’re not familiar with Alan Danielson, check out his blogebook and assessment, or coaching and consulting. You’ll be challenged, encouraged, and stretched. It’s worth your time.