Vision http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision Sat, 19 Apr 2014 20:42:47 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 6 Leadership Tasks for Easter http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20858-6-leadership-tasks-for-easter http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20858-6-leadership-tasks-for-easter

This coming Sunday, Christians around the world will celebrate Easter—perhaps better understood as “Resurrection Sunday.”

Some believers will celebrate with meals and family get-togethers. Some will gather with the largest church crowds they’ve seen all year; others will join small groups to rejoice quietly in places where gathering is life threatening.

I wonder, though, if we sometimes celebrate the resurrection one Sunday a year and really don’t let its truth affect our lives. Here are six steps Christian leaders might take this week as we focus on Easter and live out its truths.

1. Spend one day in prayer meditating on what we do. I remember well the first time I watched a church member die. I sat by her bedside until her body relaxed after its final breath. I was just a 20-year-old pastor, and I wasn’t sure what to do next. What I did understand, though, was that something significant had just happened. A believer had entered heaven – and I realized then that ministry deals with the eternal. Take time this week to read the narratives of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the gospels. Meditate on them. Weep over them. Rejoice in the victory. Because of the resurrection, what we do really does matter.

2. Reach out to another church leader who has seemingly lost hope. They are all around us, frankly. Hurting, alone, wounded, hiding and hopeless. They are like the bewildered followers of Jesus post-crucifixion but pre-resurrection. Some will preach this coming Sunday about resurrection, but the story will mean little to them. Their present-tense pain overshadows any sense of future-tense hope. Find one of these leaders, and be a model of resurrection hope this week. Take somebody to lunch. Offer a prayer. Be a light to somebody wandering aimlessly in the darkness.

3. Give somebody a second chance. Most of us have a Simon in our life—someone who once loved us, but who hurt us deeply. Sometimes no repentance has taken place, and no reconciliation has occurred. At other times, though, our Simon has been broken over his/her wrong, but we remain angry and distant. Our own pain becomes an idol. If that’s where you are, take a page from the resurrection story. Simon Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus never took His eye off the disciple (Luke 22:61). The angel at the open tomb made certain Peter heard the truth of the resurrection (Mark 16:7). The fallen fisherman, still one of the family, had a second chance. Give somebody that same chance this Easter season.

4. Serve with renewed vigor, even if you seem to be serving among the dead. Many of us have been there. Nobody seems to be listening to your teaching. Months, or even years, have passed since someone showed significant life change through your ministry. Sunday is more a chore than a day of worship and celebration. If you’ve lost your passion for the people you serve, let the truths of the resurrection sink in. God is not dead. The days seemingly in the tomb only make the day of resurrection that much brighter – and that day will come. Even if you think you’re the only person in your congregation doing so this week, serve the Lord with resurrection steam. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response of your people.

5. Teach the Word clearly and concisely. This task might seem almost too simple, but here’s the point: we have an opportunity this week to preach the gospel to many who haven’t heard it in awhile (perhaps since last Easter) – so we simply must do it well. Our job is to communicate the Word, not impress with our knowledge or oratory skills. Just because we can preach an hour doesn’t mean we always should. So, study hard this week, but present the Word in a way that the smallest child or the oldest adult understands it. Our responsibility is to point all people of all ages to the resurrected Lord, not to us.

6. Let God surprise you. Sure, the disciples heard Jesus talk about His death and resurrection. They knew what He had said, but still they were surprised—and ultimately filled with wonder—when the resurrected One stood before them. The resurrection reminds us that God operates outside of our boxes. He is hardly limited to our boundaries. Frankly, it wouldn’t hurt most of us if God did something in our lives not already planned in our church bulletin.

Church leader, let the resurrected Lord surprise you with His glory this week. He is risen, indeed!

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Chuck Lawless) Vision Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:00:00 -0400
Pastor, Do You Know What Your Future Looks Like? http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20851-pastor-do-you-know-what-your-future-looks-like http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20851-pastor-do-you-know-what-your-future-looks-like

Pastor, have you considered your future lately? What does God have for you? When is the last time you really prayed about God’s future for you and your family?

A Personal Testimony

I was raised in Texas. When I was a young pastor, I had no idea what my future would be. Quite honestly, I still do not.

When I surrendered to God’s calling to come to my church over 27 years ago, I would have never dreamed I would be here this long. Growing up, it seemed our small church had a new pastor every two or three years. Frequent transition was all I knew.

Therefore, it is quite amazing that I find myself at this point in life, having served the same church for 27 years. Years ago, when I surrendered to ministry, I did not imagine much at all about my future. All I knew was that I wanted to be where God wanted me.

A Basic Conviction

I have operated by a basic conviction throughout my ministry: I want to go wherever God wants me to go, anytime, anywhere and anyplace. After all of these years, I still live by this conviction. I am drawn to one basic thing: I want to be where God wants me to be.

I have told this to other pastors, and I mean this with all my heart: When you surrender to God’s calling to go to a certain place, always live like you are going to be there your entire life; at the same time, always have your bags packed, ready to follow God’s calling for your life. Jeana and I still live with this zealous desire to follow God and His calling for our lives. We truly believe we have, and that His calling has been, and is at this time, to Northwest Arkansas.

How a Pastor Should Navigate Toward His Future

I want to challenge each pastor and minister of the gospel to keep these things in mind as they navigate toward the future God has for them:

1. Be 100 percent willing to go anywhere at any time to do anything God calls you to do. Are you willing? When He calls, will you follow Him? Will you operate so much by this conviction that it does not matter if the geography is your preference, the timing is to your advantage, or the ministry is not what you have ever seen yourself in as a God-called minister?

I am reminded of my friend Dr. Jeff Crawford, president of our Cross Church School of Ministry and teaching pastor of Cross Church. Dr. Crawford is a man with an earned doctorate degree. He is gifted, articulate, educated and called. He could be in the academic realm elsewhere or be serving as a pastor of a large church, just like he was a little over one year ago. Yet God has called Jeff to be here.

It seems all of his gifts, training and passion merge in this position with us. Just think what it would be like if Jeff had held on to his position so closely that he would have refused the calling of God to come here. Thanks, Jeff and Julie, for following God’s callingThanks for being 100 percent willing to go anywhere, anytime, to do anything God calls you to do.

Will you, pastor?

2. Live with your “yes” on the altar. When is the last time you placed your “yes” on the altar? I mean, you said, “God, whatever it is you want me to do, my answer is yes. Whatever you are calling me to do, the answer is yes.”

There is something liberating about living with your “yes” on the altar. Oh yes, I have been somewhat sobered by this statement when there have been moments I sensed God was about to do something new with me. I mean, while exciting on one end, it is extremely sobering on the other end.

It may do you well again, pastor, whether you are 80 or 28, to kneel down one day this week and pray, “Lord, just one more time, I want to live with my 'yes' on the altar. If you ask me to do anything other than what I am doing, I yield willingly and my answer is yes.”

3. Be willing to stay as much as you are willing to leave. Pastoral ministry is hard. It is much easier, especially in today’s world, to leave after three or four years than it is to stay. People are hard to please. Many times, we are like football coaches: Not only are we judged by our wins and losses, but we are also judged and scrutinized by the way we win.

My point: It is easier for a pastor to leave than to stay. Pastor, some of you may need to stick it out where you are. God will use it all to work in your life powerfully. Sometimes God does something fresh in us not when we leave but when we once again realize that He wants us right where we are.

As you navigate toward your future: Pray, believe, and trust the Lord. As I have said many times through the years, I am so glad God loves me so much that He protects me from myself when I don’t know how to protect myself and my future. Yes, God is faithful. You can trust Him.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd has been a pastor for over 36 years. Since 1986, Pastor Floyd has served as the senior pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, which has baptized over 17,000 people during his tenure. He has authored 20 books, including Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ronnie Floyd) Vision Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:54:50 -0400
Stop Being a Car-Chasing Leader http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20784-stop-being-a-car-chasing-leader http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20784-stop-being-a-car-chasing-leader

We’ve all seen dogs that chase cars. It’s funny that they like to try and catch up with a car going 40 mph and bark and growl like they really have a chance of catching it.

As pastors and leaders, we’re all guilty of trying to catch something that is simply going too fast. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have big God goals and visions, but they have to be based on what we know He wants to do around and through us.

2 Things About Chasing “Cars” as a Leader:

1. You need to chase something you can actually catch. God gifted you and placed you. There are certain things you just aren’t going to be called to do. Don’t get me wrong—God can certainly add to you what He needs you to have, but consider who He’s made you to be when you dream. Is what you’re dreaming something that He’s told you to do or something that you just wanna do?

If it’s an “us” dream, we’ll never catch it. We’ll be like the stupid dog chasing the car. If it’s a God dream, He’ll help us get there. Hear Him. Trust Him.

2. You need to pace yourself. That dog always comes up short and walks back out of breath. As a leader, we have to pace ourselves. I’ve seen too many times leaders that start out with good and godly goals but chase too hard and too alone and run out of wind.

Pace yourself. Be sure to fill up along the way.

Artie Davis wears a lot of hats and leads a lot of people. He’s a pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, S.C. He heads the Comb Network and the Sticks Conference. He speaks and writes about leadership, ministry, church planting, and cultural diversity in the church. You can find his blog at ArtieDavis.com or catch him on Twitter @artiedavis.

For the original article, visit artiedavis.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Artie Davis) Vision Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Do You See What God Sees? http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20771-do-you-see-what-god-sees http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20771-do-you-see-what-god-sees

The main point for a pastor or any Christian leader is not simply to keep a lid on things, to maintain the status quo, to keep the wheels greased. A leader is to be a thermostat, not a thermometer.

Leaders seek to know what is in God’s heart and then set the tone of the discussion. This calls for boldness, for being secure in one’s calling. But that’s the essence of leadership, which I define as courage in action.

This may sound theoretical—but, in fact, it gets very specific as you live it out. I know a pastor who saw the need to add 100 parking spaces to the church’s lot. Of course, it’s not easy to raise money for asphalt.

But he and his team weren’t doing this just to provide business for the paving company. They linked the project to the church’s mission, which was to provide access to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Out of this came their slogan, “Asphalt Gives Access.” The congregation caught the larger point, and the necessary money was raised.

If a leader does not make this kind of connection, people can assume it’s just a matter of personal preference or ambition. If they think you’re proposing a change just because you want to, they will wonder why you’re pushing this. There has to be a theological undergirding for the change, for the outlay of money.

Seeing the Culture

Ministers must forever watch for shifts in the cultural wind. Today is not like the 1970s or the 1980s or even the 1990s. And even if it was, individual people are not in the same season of life as they were back in those decades.

They’ve traversed from being young singles to newly marrieds to busy parents to ...

The fact is, nobody stands still. Boomers are less loyal to church traditions than their predecessors were. They care little about the name on the sign out front. They care deeply, however, about what connections they’re making with other people.

Generation X and millennials are different yet again. They’re less keyed to propositions and more keyed to narrative (that’s why they watch so many movies). They don’t worry about efficiency and pragmatic solutions; they just want to be “authentic” and “real,” even “raw.”

On top of this, our society is subject to constant cross-pollination as people move geographically. They bring values and ideas from Dallas to Minneapolis, or vice versa, that stir the pot. Plus, we have internationals arriving all the time.

All of these changes are significant to those of us who are trying to lead. It’s important to keep current with the shifting cultural winds—so long as they do not become our master. We could turn ourselves into full-time armchair sociologists if we’re not careful. If we become obsessed with chasing whatever is “hot” at the moment, we will lose our tie to the One who called us to serve His interests. He is the One who truly knows what’s going on and how He wants us to relate to the present milieu.

We sometimes think we’re in a unique, never-seen-before environment. But stop and think a minute about the world of the first century. The crowd that gathered downstairs from the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost spoke more than a dozen languages.

Peter stood up and had to address everyone, from local Jews to North Africans to Mesopotamians. If you analyze his message, he spent a good 75 percent of the time just talking about Jesus—which might be a worthy model for us in today’s multicultural world. Peter rose above style, subculture and personal preference. No wonder “about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41, NIV).

Navigating the Challenges of 'Niche’

Here in our time, we who aspire to build God’s church are sailing into a stiff societal headwind called “niche.” More and more people today hold stronger and stronger opinions about what they like and don’t like. If the subject is restaurants, the menu choices are Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Middle Eastern, Greek and a dozen other specialties. If the subject is radio, you’ve got country stations, rock stations, talk-news stations (some liberal, others conservative), adult-contemporary stations, classical stations … the list goes on and on. Choice is king these days.

And here’s the church of Jesus Christ, trying to be a family, which by its very nature means cross-niche and heterogeneous. Look at any family around the Thanksgiving table; there may be 14-year-olds and 34-year-olds and 54-year-olds and maybe even 74-year-olds. There are males and females. Some of them may live in metropolitan areas, while others are from small towns.

Each person has to flex for the others. That’s the nature of a family.

Close by the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in downtown Richmond, Va., sits a church called, fittingly, Commonwealth Chapel. Its congregation of some 500 attenders is, as you might imagine, young and urban … the Starbucks crowd.

But there’s also a dear saint affectionately known by the rest as Sister Chappell, now in her 80s. She’s been there since the days long ago when the church was called Bethel Assembly of God. At this stage of life, she’s not going anywhere else! And the young people honor her.

I’ve been in the Tuesday night prayer gathering and have seen her shuffle down the aisle in her matronly flowered dress and tennis shoes, approach the microphone and start “testifying,” maybe even sing a bit of an old-time song—and the jeans-and-sweatshirt crowd breaks out in applause.

She’s not a category to them, an “old lady” from the dusty past. She’s a person, a sister (well, maybe an aunt) in Christ. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.

The family of God desperately needs wise, perceptive leadership to bring diverse people together under the common rule of Christ.

Bob Rhoden, a former pastor and district superintendent who is now an executive presbyter with the Assemblies of God, is the author of Four Faces of a Leader, from which this article is condensed with permission (2013, My Healthy Church). He and his wife, Joan, live in Richmond, Va. You can follow him on Twitter @bob_rhoden.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Bob Rhoden) Vision Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:00:00 -0400
Small Churches Can Take Off and Fly http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20766-small-churches-can-take-off-and-fly http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20766-small-churches-can-take-off-and-fly

My mom owned and managed a travel agency in San Diego, mostly because she loved to travel, and she truly enjoyed helping others travel. Mom loved hanging out at airports—really!

Airplanes fascinated her, and I caught the bug. To this day, I love a window seat in the terminal so I can sit and watch what’s happening on the tarmac while waiting till it’s time to board my flight.

Every time I see a Boeing 747 take off, I think, That should not fly! But it takes off beautifully each time. Check this out:

  • A 747-400 model can carry more than 600 passengers with their luggage.
  • It takes off at 180 mph and cruises at 565 mph.
  • It has 16 tires.
  • It has a maximum take-off weight of 910,000 pounds.
  • It can travel 7,260 nautical miles (8,350 land miles).

That list seems like the description of a megachurch when compared to a small church—both overwhelming and impossible to achieve.

But consider this:

The first flight by the Wright brothers was on Dec. 17, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, N.C., and lasted 12 seconds. The name of the plane was The Flyer. It peaked at 20 feet in the air, at 6.8 mph. Here’s what I really love: They flew 120 feet, a distance that could fit inside the coach section of a 747!

If you lead a small church, keep all this in mind. You might feel like you pastor The Flyer, but it could very well lead to something really big. The Wright brothers had no idea what their efforts would lead to, but they followed their dream and passion. That’s your job too. Stick with it and keep leading. Ultimately, God decides how big your church will become, but He has made it clear He intends for all churches to grow—to fly.

The following are three things that will be of immense help to your flight plans:

1. Keep your sights on the right thing. The Wright brothers weren’t trying to build a 747. They were just trying to fly! That led to amazing things for them and all of us. I meet too many pastors who want to start or take a church and then see it jump to something huge. That’s rarely how it works. Orville and Wilbur kept their sights focused on the main thing: flight!

What is your main thing (right thing)? No matter what your vision encompasses, I’ll bet that seeing people say yes to Jesus is somewhere deep in the core of your mission. If you stay focused on that, it will help you fly. Evangelism, by whatever name or method you prefer, must be the heartbeat of any local church that wants to fly. Don’t get stuck on the runway. Press hard to reach those who don’t know Jesus and don’t attend church.

2. Don’t surrender to discouragement. I can’t imagine how discouraged the Wright brothers must have become in the process of working through all the attempts that failed. But they didn’t give up. I’m convinced that one of the top tactics of the enemy is discouragement. If he can get you down, it’s hard for you to stay in the game and remain hopeful. Ministry is tough, and it can be really tough in a small church. Perhaps you are bivocational or don’t have staff or your leaders are few and some not supportive.

Here are six things to help beat the discouragement blues:

  • Remember your conversion. Reflect back on what God did for you through the Person of Jesus Christ. What a great gift. His love for you is immense and can help carry you through tough days.
  • Remember your calling. Your call to ministry is a high honor. Reflect back on when and why you said yes to vocational ministry. That wasn’t a mistake. You are needed in the effort to extend the kingdom of God!
  • Identify two or three spiritually mature supporters so you can talk to one of them every week. These individuals can be in your church or outside your church. The idea is to have cheerleaders in your life who love and support you, who will listen and speak the truth.
  • Find a leadership mentor to coach you two to three times a year for an hour or so. Candidly, you don’t need a leadership mentor on a frequent basis. That’s good, but not necessary. I recommend that you ask a pastor of a church about double the size of your church within a hundred miles of your church to go to lunch a couple times a year. It will take you that much time between meetings to put into practice all that you discuss together. If you are an overachiever, you can follow this plan with two leadership mentors!
  • Get better at what you do. Developing your leadership skills and your communication skills is essential. Your supporters and leadership coaches can help you, but most of it is up to you. Practice is what makes you better, and here’s the key: You must practice what you can’t do until you can. Practice is not about repeating what you are already doing. It’s about improving and becoming measurably better at what you do.
  • Lean into exercise and a hobby. I don’t want to get preachy, but since you have read this far, you know my only desire is to be helpful. Exercise is one of the best things in the world to increase energy and improve your state of mind. And doing something you enjoy for a hobby is emotionally healthy, and it’s fun! All these things will help you beat discouragement.

The last thing I want you to do is to look at this list and get discouraged. I’m not saying you must do all six things or it won’t work. In fact, I’m not saying that at all. Even one or two will help. The more you do, the better for you, but just tackle what you can to start.

3. Increase the level of spiritual intensity in your church. I’m not suggesting something weird, nor am I implying that you don’t pray deep and much. But I’m compelled to say that the intensity with which you pursue God and His favor has everything to do with the progress of your church. I truly believe that the favor of God is precious, priceless and powerful. I don’t believe He withholds it from any leader who sincerely desires it, but we must be careful how we define that favor.

In the natural, we might tend to think favor equals greater attendance. God may well see favor as changed lives! Either way I do believe your church will realize growth. But again, you don’t get to decide how much growth; God makes that determination.

There are many dimensions of spiritual intensity, such as worship, a heart for lost people, and prayer. Let me comment only on intensity and prayer. By "intensity in prayer," I don’t necessarily mean “loud and forceful” (though that can be great). I mean "more faith and fervency.” How strong is your faith? How much passion does your heart carry in your prayers?

As leaders, we don’t “work something up” when we pray. God doesn’t hear us better just because we get louder. But there is something real and distinctive about the heart of a leader who is desperate to see the power and presence of the living God show up in the ministry of their church.

God’s presence alone immediately makes any small church larger in spirit and greater in potential. In this we can all be encouraged and take flight!

Dan Reiland is executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Dan Reiland) Vision Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:00:00 -0500
5 Renewal Stages for Churches Being Led to Change http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20765-5-renewal-stages-for-churches-being-led-to-change http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20765-5-renewal-stages-for-churches-being-led-to-change

If you are being led to change the way your church serves God’s purposes, it's helpful to understand the process of renewal.

Many leaders want to start by changing the structure of their church. However, this can be destructive for you, your leadership and your church.

People don’t like to change unless their hearts have been warmed and prepared for change. We believe that when God wants to work in a church, He takes it through five renewals.

Personal Renewal

The first renewal is personal renewal; it starts inside the heart of the leader. We cannot take people further than we have been ourselves. We cannot expect other people to be more committed to Jesus that we are. We cannot expect other people to grow or sacrifice unless we are willing to continue growing and sacrificing. We cannot expect other people to change if we are unwilling to change ourselves. We must model this in our leadership.

Personal renewal is basically when I get my life right with God. It’s when my heart warms up to Jesus and I become more aware of the presence of Christ and the filling of the Holy Spirit in my life. It’s called a lot of different things: making Jesus Lord, rededicating your life, being filled with the Holy Spirit, the deeper life, consecration and more. It doesn’t matter what you call it; it just means Jesus is real to you—you are in a deep, personal relationship with Jesus.

The book The Purpose Driven Life is about personal renewal. It starts with the sentence, “It’s not about you.” Life is all about serving God by serving others. It’s a paradigm shift in a very self-centered, narcissistic culture that says it’s all about me. Jesus said, “Lay down your life for the sheep if you want to be a good shepherd.” He said, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43, NIV).

Here’s the problem in ministry. We often start our ministry in order to serve others. But as time goes by, we fall for the great temptation of ministry, and all of a sudden we want people to serve us instead of us serving them. Service to others gets reversed to “Serve me.”

We all need to renew the condition of our hearts and our relationship with God.

If you are going to have renewal in your church, it has to start in the heart of the leader.

It is also about the hearts of our people. If you try to change your church without personal renewal in the hearts of your people as well, it isn’t going to last.

Relational Renewal

The second renewal is relational renewal; it is renewal between us and other people. First you get your heart right with God, and then you get your heart right with other people. The first two renewals are simply the Great Commandment of Jesus.

When Jesus was asked what is the most important commandment in the Bible, He said this: “First, love God with all your heart” (that’s personal renewal), “then love your neighbor as yourself” (that’s relational renewal). We must love other Christians; we must love other denominations; we must love Muslims; we must love Jews; we must love everyone. We have no right not to love someone.

You can always tell when a church has experienced relational renewal—the singing gets better! When a church doesn’t like to sing, it means that they don’t like each other. But when they love each other, they like to sing together.

Another way you can see relational renewal is that people like to stay after the church service to talk. When you love your neighbor as yourself, you want to talk to your neighbors! Through relational renewal, gossip goes down and love goes up. Conflict goes down and unity goes up.

As a pastor and church leader, one of your first responsibilities is to help your church go through these first two renewals.

But understand that many churches go through these renewals. They have retreats or a revival meeting or an annual Bible conference. People get right with God and with each other; people are happy, and the church starts growing.

But then it hits a ceiling and it goes back down, and they go through another renewal, and they hit a ceiling again and then go back down. Why is it that so many churches never get beyond 100 to 300 people? It’s because they never move on to the next stages of renewal.

Missional Renewal

The third renewal is missional renewal, or purpose renewal. This stage of renewal has to do with purpose. In missional renewal, our church realizes that we are not here for ourselves; we’re here for a purpose. God has a job for us to do. We have a mission, an objective; we have some work to accomplish. We’re not just a little “bless me” clique, where we get together in church, have a good time, love God and one another, and then go home. No, God has a purpose for us. He has a kingdom to be built.

Understanding this and making God’s purposes our leadership responsibility will inevitably cause our church to grow. The book The Purpose Driven Church is all about purpose renewal and how to structure and organize around God’s purposes for His church.

Structural Renewal

The fourth renewal is structural renewal, or organizational renewal. As your church begins to grow, the way it is organized—the way it makes decisions—has to change. This is the principle Jesus taught when He said, “No one puts new wine into old wine skins” (Luke 5:37, LB).

Many of us are trying to put the new wine of God’s Spirit into an organization our churches used more than 50 years ago. When you will see a good pastor but the church is not growing, what is the problem? Many times it is not structured in a way that will allow the church to grow healthily. If you insist on keeping the old wineskin, it’s going to stifle growth.

No animal can grow above nine inches without a skeleton. A small animal can exist without bones, but a big animal has to have bones to support the structure. The bigger the animal, the bigger the bones need to be. This is what is meant about changing structure. The structure, or organization, is the bones that hold the body of Christ together.

When we were children, our bones were very small. As adults, we’d look quite funny if we had the same bones. Did you know that you get new bones every seven years? Your body is continually eliminating old cells from your bones and creating new bones from your marrow. Similarly, this must happen in our churches as they grow.

How do you create a structure that can keep growing and never stop? The organization that keeps a church growing is small groups. A small group is six to 10 people who meet together regularly. When you get more than 10 people in a small group, then someone stops talking and all they do is listen. In a small group, small is better.

A great example of this principle is in Korea, where one of the largest churches in the world has more than half a million members and more than 50,000 small groups. This is how a church can grow and still be personal. If you have more than 30 people in your church, you need small groups. There are many more examples all over South America and Africa that have small groups in the tens of thousands. This is the principle: If you have small groups, there is no limit to your growth.

Your body is not one big giant cell; it is thousands and thousands of little cells put together. This is true of the body of Christ. So, in structural renewal, it is important to understand the need to change as the church gets larger. When a church grows from 50 to 150, there will be changes needed; when it grows from 150 to 300, additional changes will be needed.

Cultural Renewal

The gospel is about renewal—renewal in our own personal life, renewal in our relationships and renewal in our churches. The result of these renewals can be to make a difference in our communities. This is the fifth renewal—cultural renewal.

The Bible tells us we are to be salt and light in the world. A lot of people take “salt and light” to suggest we need to be actively involved in the political system. It is important to vote and take a stand on values. But you don’t change culture through politics. If you want to change culture, you start upstream with music, entertainment and sports. You start with the influences on the way people think. This is the task of the church; a renewed church affects society.

Cultural renewal is when the attitudes of the people in the entire nation begins to change, even those who are not Christians. The Bible calls this change in culture “the kingdom of God.” This is our ultimate goal—the kingdom of God. It has nothing to do with politics, and it has nothing to do with government. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” and so government cannot bring in the kingdom, and businesses cannot bring in the kingdom, and even individuals cannot bring in the kingdom. Only the church can bring in the kingdom.

What is the kingdom of God? It is wherever Jesus is King. When Jesus is King in my heart, then the kingdom of God is within me. When Jesus is in charge in heaven, the kingdom of God is in heaven. When Jesus is King in our community, the kingdom of God is on earth. In the Bible, Jesus said all three of these things. Our ultimate goal in all that we’re doing is not to be “purpose driven.” Our ultimate purpose is the kingdom of God. It is to the glory of God—it is the global glory of God.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Rick Warren) Vision Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:00:00 -0500
3 Pillars of a Strong, Dynamic Ministry http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20760-three-pillars-of-a-strong-dynamic-church-ministry http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20760-three-pillars-of-a-strong-dynamic-church-ministry

When it comes to leading a strong ministry and building a healthy church, it takes more than solid theology or smart strategy. In fact, it takes a combination of those, plus the Spirit’s leading and empowerment. I think of these three as pillars of a dynamic ministry.

Every church needs to be led by a pastor with a strong ecclesiology—a strong theology of church and mission. Out of our ecclesiology flows our mission, in fact. The mission doesn’t change. Jesus defined it in the Great Commission and has never revised it. How you see the story of the church unfolding in the New Testament should have a lot to do with how you lead the church today.

A Strong Ecclesiology

My ecclesiology encompasses the truth that Jesus founded the church Himself during His earthly ministry. It wasn’t “born” on Pentecost. It was born when the first apostles followed Jesus.

The church is local and visible. While I appreciate the Apostles’ Creed, I also fear that the point about believing in the holy catholic (universal) church has shifted our focus away from the local, visible body, which is where the mission of Jesus gets organized in a visible, tangible, effective way.

The church will continue its mission, in the protection and power of Jesus, until He comes again. The church can’t and won’t fail. The gates of hell won’t prevail against it. While its easy to point out what’s wrong with the church, this core conviction motivates me to celebrate what’s going right with the church.

The New Testament presents a church that gathers and scatters. They meet in temple courts and from house to house. Sunday’s service matters. It’s a redemptive gathering of a covenant community to worship and to witness. Small groups matter just as much. Call them missional communities, house churches or Sunday school classes, they matter as much as the gathering, but not to the exclusion of it.

The New Testament church is led by shepherds. I love the image of the flock under the care of its shepherds, who answer to the Great Shepherd Himself, Jesus. He is the head of the church. He has pre-eminence, and pastors need the freedom to lead strongly while being accountable to the Chief Shepherd.

I could go on, but the way we build a healthy church, even if it is an organic movement of people gathering in a movie theater and in homes around the community, is determined by our biblical view of the church.

A Wise Strategy

One of my pet peeves is what happens when a church leader talks about a smart idea, a good strategy or a sweet system. Inevitably, some critics line up to point out how “man-made” methods and marketing strategies and systems are evil and how leaders who develop them must have no strong theology at all. It never fails. Every time we publish an article on Pastors.com designed to help modern leaders face modern problems in their modern context, accusers show up in the comments to point out how Jesus or the Spirit or the Bible wasn’t mentioned, even though the article is about strategy with an assumed strong theology undergirding it.

The fact is, I need to know about systems and strategies, and I’m convinced that thousands of churches are stuck today with a really strong theology but no strategy for engaging the culture and making disciples. The fact is, you need healthy systems for accomplishing the timeless, biblical mission of making disciples. For example:

  • You know you should develop leaders, but what’s your leadership ladder?
  • You know you need to spread the word, but how are you equipping the saints to do so?
  • You know you need to challenge people to take a next step, but have you defined the next step?
  • You want everyone to catch the vision, but have you articulated it an understandable way?

These are strategy questions, and there are plenty more where they came from. Don’t resort to juking leaders with a “just follow Jesus, just trust the Spirit, and just preach the Word” response. You may mean well, but you’re crippling the church when you do so.

Be harmless as doves. But be wise as serpents too. Develop a strategy for accomplishing the mission.

The Power of God

Some churches have a strong theology and a good strategy but are still stuck. Sometimes it’s because we’ve left out the third pillar of a strong, healthy ministry: the power of God. Having defined our theology and developed our strategy, it is still absolutely imperative that we go forward with an attitude of complete and utter dependence on the Spirit of God to bear fruit through us.

We can set the stage, arrange the chairs and roll out the red carpet, but we cannot save people. This is a work of God.

And I’m not urging us to tack this onto the end. Just because I’ve listed it last doesn’t mean it’s least in importance. Leaning on the power of the Spirit of God is essential as we study the Scriptures and form our theology as well as when we’re creating the strategies to help us fulfill the mission in our present ministry context. His job, in fact, is to shed light on the teachings of Jesus as we study.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a guy who would likely disagree with most of what I write about, but I love his words. Shelton Smith said, “The difference between mediocrity and excellence is midnight oil, elbow grease and the power of God.” That is so true.

If you want a strong, healthy, balanced ministry, find its definition in the New Testament, develop a strategy that works in your present context, and start and finish with trusting the Spirit of God’s empowering presence.

Brandon Cox has been a pastor for 15 years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren’s Pastors’ Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders. He’s also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Brandon Cox) Vision Tue, 04 Mar 2014 17:00:00 -0500
5 Things I’ve Learned as a Young Pastor in a Small Church http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20759-5-things-i-ve-learned-as-a-young-pastor-in-a-small-church http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20759-5-things-i-ve-learned-as-a-young-pastor-in-a-small-church

Nintety-four percent of churches in America are under 500 people. That’s a real statistic.

Go ahead. Look it up.

This was surprising to me because most of the time it feels like we only hear about the largest 1 percent of churches. To be fair, those churches are creating amazing content and sharing incredible stories that need to be told. Those are churches doing kingdom work, and they deserve to be celebrated. We need that 1 percent. But we also need the 94 percent.

I’m a young pastor. Like a lot of young pastors, I had stars in my eyes as I entered ministry. My church will explode with growth. My book (that I’ve never written) will be a best-seller. I’ll be a regular on the conference circuit. These are common dreams for young pastors, and I’m no exception.

As nice as dreams are, they don’t always match up with reality, and the reality is that I’m in one of those churches under 500 people. A great church. A healthy church. A Christ-centered church that I love deeply. A small church.

So, I want to share some lessons that I’ve learned about being a young pastor in a small church. These aren’t necessarily lessons that are specific to being young, but from my experience, it’s we younger pastors who need a reality check. Reality is good, and here are five things I’ve learned that have helped me love the reality God has placed me in:

1. Patience is an underrated virtue. This cannot be stated emphatically enough. Young pastors (and I’m preaching to myself here) are full of energy and excitement and ideas that we’re ready to implement right now. We’re ready to overhaul ministries, throw away traditions and add programs left and right. And that’s a good thing!

It’s good to be excited and to have fresh ideas and perspectives. But the best way to have all of those ideas and initiatives spectacularly crash and burn is to rush into things without taking enough time on the front end. It’s hard to be patient, to have all the conversations and meetings and meetings before meetings that are required in order to gain consensus. But it’s worth it. Oh, baby, is it worth it. If you can cultivate patience and be willing to do the hard work of paving the way for your ideas and ministries, you and your church will be much healthier and happier in the long run.

2. Not everyone will like you. Everybody wants to be loved. It’s just the way we’re wired. Unfortunately, not everyone in your small church is going to love you. Or like you. Or even respect you. Early on in my ministry, I figured this out, and it was a hard lesson.

We had a family in our church that just did not like me. And as much as I tried to figure out why and worked to gain this family’s love and respect, it always seemed out of reach. I wasted a lot of time and energy seeking affirmation and value from people who didn’t like me, and it left me empty.

Regardless of why someone doesn’t like us as pastors, our focus must always be on Christ. When we take our eyes off Jesus and the mission that He’s placed before us, we’re going to lose our way. Working for the approval and adoration of people is always an empty endeavor. Our value and ultimate affirmation has to flow from God.

3. Your family is more important than your ministry. Before I entered the ministry, I worked at a bank. I worked hard and did a good job, but I knew that ultimately I didn’t want banking to be my future. Because of that, it was always easy to leave work at the door and not bring it home.

Whether we like it or not, ministry is not just another job, and if you’re not careful, ministry can start to take you away from your family.

As small church pastors, members of our congregation have a lot of personal access to us. That’s great, until it’s not. Be vigilant about creating boundaries for yourself and maintaining a schedule that prioritizes your family. How many nights are you doing ministry each week? How many hours are you spending in the office every week? How much of that sermon prep do you bring home with you? These are important questions that help keep our priorities in order. The first ministry God has given you is to your spouse and kids. They deserve the top spot.

4. Embrace your church the way it is. Your church is not perfect, but no church is. It’s good to grow and move forward, but it’s not good to obsess over fundamentally changing the DNA of your church.

When I came to candidate at my church, I didn’t (and still don’t) fit the model of what pastors look like in our small, rural community. In an area where clean-cut is the norm, I stand out by wearing my hair long and my jeans skinny. At first, I was worried that the church might have an expectation that I change before they could call me. But that didn’t happen. The people accept and appreciate me for who I am both inside and out and didn’t expect me to fundamentally change to be their pastor.

God has given your church a unique opportunity just the way it is. Trying to fundamentally change your church will only end with heartaches and headaches. Embrace what makes your church unique, and minister to those who God has called you to.

5. God loves small. In 2 Samuel 16, we find the story of Samuel being sent by God to find and anoint a new king over Israel. Saul (who happens to be very large) has been rejected by God, and a new leader has to be found. Samuel happens upon Jesse and his family and is certain he’s found the king in Jesse’s oldest son. Why? Because he was big! God even has to tell Samuel to stop looking at “appearance or height” because that’s not a good indication of someone’s spiritual health. Instead, God ends up choosing David, the youngest—and presumably smallest—of Jesse’s sons.

We all know the rest of the story. This runt ends up killing a giant, ruling Israel, and is described as a “man after God’s own heart.” That’s just one example of many where God chooses to use the small to accomplish the big. It is no different in our churches.

Just as Samuel looked at size and appearance as an indicator of ability, we small church pastors can sometimes look at bigger ministries and assume they’re doing it better or have more of God’s blessing. Meanwhile, God is trying to tell us to stop looking at them and to instead see our church how He sees it. God has big plans for your small church! That’s the way He works.

Small churches are used by God to do amazing kingdom work all over the world. My encouragement for young pastors is that we would be proud of the ministry God has given us—and lead our churches with all the passion and energy that they deserve.

Jonny Craig is an associate pastor at Dover Church in northwest Iowa. He’s also a podcaster and blogger at 200churches.com, a resource to encourage and equip pastors and leaders of small churches.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Jonny Craig) Vision Mon, 03 Mar 2014 20:00:00 -0500
10 Leadership Principles for Ministry http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20756-10-leadership-principles-for-ministry http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20756-10-leadership-principles-for-ministry

I’ve shared thousands of words on a host of subjects on my blog, freely peppered with my life’s experiences. My primary theme, of course, has been ministerial leadership. To help make your journey along God’s plan as efficient as possible, here’s my 10-point summary of leadership principles:

1. You must desire to lead. If you’re promoted to leadership, it should be because you want to lead. The desire to be a leader is nothing to be ashamed of, but the key is that your desire to lead should be married to your desire to be used by God. When you manifest that combination, you’re not driven by ego but by altruism.

2. Leadership requires vision. Leaders see what other people may not see.

3. Leadership requires communication. If you are going to be a leader, you have to be able to communicate, and you have to know what to communicate.

4. Leadership takes risks. You can’t plant yourself safely behind a desk. You need to wrestle in the arena of your organization’s activity.

5. Since leadership flows from a concern for those being led, relationships are vital.

6. Leadership is a balance between initiation and response.

7. Leadership rebounds from failure and loss. Anyone who has been in leadership has taken some pretty severe hits. But you must get back up off the floor and keep pushing ahead.

8. Leadership upholds and operates on the strength of godly principles.

9. Leadership differentiates between negotiable and non-negotiable courses of action.

10. Leadership serves from love, not from power. God-ordained leadership upends the world’s triangular model of personal advancement. People of the world try to work their way to the top of the triangle, to the place of power over the subservient masses. Godly leaders serve their way to the bottom. You try to get underneath everyone else to live out Christ’s pronouncement, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

As leaders, we are involved in the sovereign work of God. We choose to serve, and He uses us according to His plan.

George O. Wood is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. For the original article, visit georgeowood.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (George O. Wood ) Vision Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:00:00 -0500
5 Vital Principles About Vision http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20751-5-vital-principles-about-vision http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20751-5-vital-principles-about-vision

A vision is beyond just a good idea. It must be a God idea. God does not obligate Himself to our good ideas or brainstorming sessions. God commits Himself to us when we connect with His heart and vision for the world.

There are five principles about vision I want to share with you:

1. Vision given: God alone gives the vision. Therefore, we have to connect with God not only daily, but deeply. Vision is not duplicating what someone else does. Vision is crafted by God into your life and leadership, using your giftedness within the context you are ministering.

2. Vision written: Write down what God is saying to you. Daily, I write a one-page prayer to God. I record what God is putting into my heart and what He has said through His Word to me. Whenever I am about to communicate a major vision to our church, I write down the vision.

It is easier to stay focused on the vision when it is written down. It is also easier to bring others alongside you in your vision when they see it in words and graphics.

3. Vision declared: Communicate by faith what God has put into your heart. When you know God has crafted His vision into your life and you have it recorded in writing, you can stand and communicate it effectively. Communicating a vision is critical to allowing others to join you in the vision. A well-crafted document that can be communicated clearly and in a compelling manner can ascend the vision greatly.

4. Vision faithed: Trust God via prayer until He fulfills it. There is a period of time that can become a little uncomfortable. It is the time between communicating the vision and seeing it realized. Therefore, your faith has to be strong. Your trust in God increases until you see with your eyes what you have already seen spiritually. True vision is seeing it before you see it! Therefore, until you see with your physical eyes, you trust God and communicate the vision clearly and in the most compelling way.

5. Vision realized: If God says it, in time, He will do it. The Lord finishes what He begins. When He places a vision in your heart, consuming you with the vision, in time, our God will fulfill the vision! He will do it! You have to forget the “what ifs” of your vision and embrace the “What we will do when we see it happen?” moments.

There is nothing like seeing a vision realized that God has placed into your heart. It ignites your faith and energizes your very soul. Yes, you can count on this: If God indeed gives you a vision, in time, He will do it!

Oh, by the way, if you will go right now and read Habakkuk 2:1-4, you will find these biblical principles for vision. God always has the final word, even the final word on vision.

Ronnie Floyd has been a pastor for over 36 years. Since 1986, Pastor Floyd has served as the senior pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, which has baptized more than 17,000 people during his tenure. Cross Church was one of the first churches in America to go multisite. Pastor Floyd has authored 20 books, including Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ronnie Floyd) Vision Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:00:00 -0500
Ed Stetzer: The Never-Ending Need to Multiply Leaders http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20743-ed-stetzer-the-never-ending-need-to-multiply-leaders http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20743-ed-stetzer-the-never-ending-need-to-multiply-leaders

Pastors of growing churches know all too well the old adage of there being two sides to every coin. The excitement and energy of a growing congregation brings with it new needs and a constant demand for more people to help carry out the ministry.

When the numbers are lacking, the pressure increases on the pastor and staff to solve every problem, run every small group, set up every service and clean every toilet. The stress can become so heavy that the growth feels more like a crisis than a blessing.

In Exodus 18, systematic issues within Moses’ leadership surface and reveal the need for a change.

Having a leadership crisis is not exclusive to the church (take a look at Congress), and neither is it a new issue. In Exodus 18, systematic issues within Moses’ leadership surface and reveal the need for a change.

The Moses Problem

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, comes for a visit. Perhaps it’s not too surprising he has an opinion on how his son-in-law is running things. In this particular case, however, the in-law advice is pretty good (just like I’m sure my future sons-in-law will say of me).

The narrative provides a clear beginning and end. At the beginning, Moses has a problem. It’s a leadership problem, and it’s a big one.

Moses is leading a group of millions literally by himself. Jethro comes right out and asks, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” (Ex. 18:14).

Moses tries to explain his role as arbiter of millions, but his answer falls short. Jethro is quick to correct, saying, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone” (vv. 17-18).

Perhaps he saw the tiredness in Moses' eyes or the stress in his shoulders or the sleepless nights. Whatever it was, Jethro clearly saw that Moses’ lifestyle was not sustainable.

Because he believed in the mission of Moses and the Israelites so much, Jethro offered a new suggestion: multiplication (and in this particular case, he wasn’t harping about wanting more grandkids). He encouraged Moses to select honorable, wise and godly men who could be taught a basic interpretation of God’s laws and instruction.

Not only did Jethro encourage Moses to select some leaders, but he also encouraged those leaders to select other leaders that they would oversee (Ex. 18:21). They could handle all the smaller issues, and if there was a really tough case, Moses could handle that one himself.

It was a defined leadership system designed to not only immediately alleviate stress from Moses but also to sustain the newly forming nation for the long haul. The end of this story is a good one. Moses listened to Jethro, the leadership grew, his stress lessened and his father-in-law went home.

It Happens Again

Only the story didn’t really end there—it recurs.

A little later, in Numbers 11, Moses is in the same boat once again. This time he’s talking directly to God, griping, “Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth ... I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me” (Num. 11:12-15).

Don’t miss this—Moses listened to Jethro. The problem was solved. Then the problem recurred.

Our Recurring Problem

I would call Moses a bit melodramatic if I haven’t felt that way myself.

I’d venture to say that most anyone who has been in leadership of a growing church has probably felt the exact same feelings. (I’ll guarantee that all church nursery volunteers have thought this very thing.)

Fruitful ministry is really a series of resolved leadership crises.

What happened between Exodus 18 and Numbers 11?

Moses discovered the reality that fixing a leadership development problem is not just a one-time thing. There is a constant need for expansion of leaders. You don’t solve a problem—fruitful ministry is really a series of resolved leadership crises.

If the church is growing, the issue is there. Most pastors of churches want their churches to grow, and they recruit leaders (or we’ll call them volunteers) to enable it. They’re surprised, however, how quickly the demand for more rears its ugly head on the heels of victory. We get new volunteers, and then we need new volunteers. So we get new volunteers, and then we need more new volunteers. It never goes away. If you want success, you better be prepared for the cycle that comes with it.

If the church is stagnant or declining, the issue is there. In declining churches, leaders serve but get worn out. The leader/volunteers will serve a while but can get discouraged. They need new volunteers both to staff current needs and to cast a vision for a new direction.

God was gracious to Moses in Numbers 11, giving him the answer that he needed to deal with his leadership crisis. The Lord said, “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders ... I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.” (Num. 11:16-17)

God multiplied the leadership again, and they moved on.

God’s Solution

The very burden of multiplying leadership is a burden the pastor should not carry alone.

So if the problem of this leadership crisis is never-ending, what ultimately is the solution? God gives Moses the same solution twice, once through Jethro and the second time directly from Himself: multiply leadership.

The key to this solution, however, is hidden right in the solution itself. The very burden of multiplying leadership is a burden the pastor should not carry alone. The new leaders are both the answer and solution.

Let me explain.

Ephesians 4:12 states that God has given pastors the responsibility to equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. So, in a sense, the leadership issue is the pastor’s job.

Paul, however, gives a great example of putting this job into practice in 2 Timothy 2. In this passage, Paul is the older, wiser pastor at the end of his life, imploring Timothy to listen to his final words of insight for success in ministry. It’s a Jethro-Moses moment. Paul states, “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” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Discipling and multiplying leaders must be a central part of every pastor’s ministry and every church’s focus.

Notice the chain of people. Paul multiplies to Timothy. Timothy multiplies to reliable people, and those people multiply to others. The multiplication burden is carried by all of them.

For this to really work, the church should have a culture of multiplication. Discipling and multiplying leaders must be a central part of every pastor’s ministry and every church’s focus.

Multiply disciples, ministries, groups and churches. Multiply everything. The leadership challenge in a church can be overwhelming; the pastor may even wish that it would go away. The only way for it to go away completely, however, is to stop caring and accept the inevitable decline. The only way to break the demands of the leadership multiplication cycle is to quit having leaders. This is obviously not an option.

A better solution to the problem is to multiply. Multiply the leaders, and share the burden each step of the way. Multiply leaders who multiply leaders. Implement discipleship-fueled multiplication in your church, and you may find you have a two-headed coin that comes up winning every time.

Ed Stetzer is the president of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit edstetzer.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ed Stetzer) Vision Fri, 21 Feb 2014 17:00:00 -0500
7 Ways the Leader Sets the Bar in Ministry http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20734-7-ways-the-leader-sets-the-bar-in-ministry http://ministriestoday.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/vision/20734-7-ways-the-leader-sets-the-bar-in-ministry

If you are a leader of an organization, then you have the awesome responsibility of establishing the parameters by which your organization will be successful.

Now, as I feel the need in every post like this, Jesus sets the bar. Period. He is our standard. But it would be foolish to ignore the fact that God allows people to lead, even in the church. And as Christian leaders, we set the bar in our church for many of the things that happen in the church.

A mentor of mine always says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” He didn’t make up the saying, but he’s learned in his 70-plus years' experience how true a statement it is. Are you leading with the idea that you are setting the bar for the people you are trying to lead?

Here are seven ways the leader sets the bar:

1. Vision casting. The God-given vision to the people is primarily communicated by the senior leader. Others will only take it as serious as you do. Keeping it ever before the people primarily is in your hands.

2. Character. The moral value of the church and staff follows closely behind its senior leadership. Our example is Jesus, and none of us fully live out that standard, but the quality of the church’s character—in every major area of life—will mirror closely to the depth of the leader’s character.

3. Team spirit. If the leader isn’t a cheerleader for the team, there will seldom be any cheerleaders on the team. Energy and enthusiasm is often directly proportional to the attitude of the leader.

4. Generosity. No church—and no organization, for that matter—will be more generous than that of its most senior leadership. There may be individuals who are generous, but as a whole, people follow the example of leadership in this area as much or more than any other.

5. Completing goals and objectives. The leader doesn’t complete all the tasks—and shouldn’t—but ultimately the leader sets the bar on whether goals and objectives are met. Complacency prevails where the leader doesn’t set measurable progress as a value and ensure systems are in place to meet them.

6. Creativity. The leader doesn’t have to be the most creative person—and seldom is—but the team will be no more creative than the leader allows. A leader that stifles idea generation puts a lid on creativity and eventually curtails growth and change.

7. Pace. The speed of change and the speed of work on a team is set by the leader. If the leader moves too slow, so moves the team. If the leader moves too fast, the team will do likewise.

Team members will seldom outperform the bar their leader sets for them. Consequently, and why this is so important a discussion, an organization will normally cease to grow beyond the bar of the leader.

Be careful, leader, of the bars you set for your team.

Ron Edmondson is a church planter and pastor with a heart for strategy, leadership and marketing, especially geared toward developing churches and growing and improving the kingdom of God.

For the original article, visit ronedmondson.com.

]]>
shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ron Edmondson) Vision Wed, 19 Feb 2014 20:00:00 -0500