Jesus’ scope of ministry was incredibly narrow, but He meant it to be that way. Why is it difficult for churches to pattern their ministry after His? read more
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As much as churches would like to focus on all ministries, it sometimes isn’t possible. Pastor Artie Davis suggests what to do for church growth. read more
What is the one thing that holds most leaders (and the organizations they lead) back?
It's simple: the unwillingness to make a really hard decision.
Most leaders know the decisions that need to be made, the hard conversations that need to be had, the programs that need to be done away with or the people who need to be replaced. They simply lack the courage to do it. read more
My wife loves to put together jigsaw puzzles. I’m not patient enough to always help, but I do try as much as I can stand it. A couple of Sundays we were on the back porch and I was watching Georgie put a puzzle together.
Here are three lessons the church can learn:
1. You have to look at the big picture first. She always starts with the box in front of her. When she can see the big picture, she can then start to put the pieces together. In the church world, always start with the big picture. The Great Commission and the vision God has given your church should be the backbone of everything. read more
A lot of times we can get into the results game or the comparative game and lose sight of what matters most. We think if only I had that building, that equipment, more staff or more money, then we would be able to do ministry better.
I’ve learned that if you start playing that game it’ll never end. You will always feel like you can do better ministry with more. I think we all know this but sometimes need to be reminded.
God has us where we are, for the work He has for us to do. read more
Having planted two churches and now working with church planters on a regular basis in a coaching capacity, I know first hand the fears associated with the situation. It’s a leap of faith and one God is calling many to these days.
My theory here is that recognizing the fear and realizing their legitimacy is part of guarding our hearts against them. The fact remains that for a church plant to be successful, at least in Kingdom terms, God must provide His grace.
Here are 5 legitimate fears of church planters: read more
I love simple, effective strategies. And the strategy Jesus used to multiply leaders before email, texts, iPads and even printed books was incredibly effective! He did it old school.
1. Educate (face to face). Jesus often took the disciples away to solitary places and taught them the mysteries of the kingdom.
We have to give those we lead the right information. They need to know things like job descriptions, goals, expectations, communication routes, vision and direction. As we look to equip leaders, communicating with them face to face lets them know how valuable they are to us. read more
There is a pervasive stereotype that leaders are the ones in the limelight, the ones on stage, the extroverts with big personalities whose faces are on the front page. Like many stereotypes, I think this one is often unfair.
Some of the best leaders I know don’t demand up-front attention, but their leadership is powerful because of the fruit it brings.
Their teams or organizations or the individuals who come in contact with them are grown and propelled forward by the vision they have and by their strength, even if their vision and strength are quiet and unassuming.
One of the reasons I think quiet leadership like this is so powerful is because the burden of responsibility is taken off one person and transferred to many.
A group of people living up to their full potential is truly more capable than a single person living up to his full potential. This is easy to admit. Which is better—one person who is living out the gospel or a group of people with unified vision and purpose, all contributing equally to the community in his or her own unique way?
The answer is obvious.
So a leader, then, might sometimes be the person from stage, teaching and explaining and casting vision, but a leader might just as often be the one who is discipling, training or just living a life worth mimicking behind the scenes.
Chances are, this is happening over coffee or lunch or at home or in an office. No stage (or lights) needed.
The other thing I love about this view of leadership is that it acts as an important reminder that we are all leaders, if we’ll accept the job title.
We are leaders in our homes, with our families, in our marriages, at our work. We all have the opportunity to be someone who sets the tone for the year or the week or the day.
We can choose to not just respond to what life hands us but to set the pace, to cast vision, to inspire change.
When we do this, we suddenly start to impact people around us without even realizing we’re doing it. Their lives will change as our lives change. We can make an impact without asking for any credit.
The final reason I love this view of leadership is that my favorite leaders are humble people.
Some of those very humble people are “limelight” people, in the sense that they are well-known and sometimes on stage. But none of them are begging for the attention or asking for praise. In fact, each of them are willing to work hard and live their life in an honest, congruent way.
Their main objectives are to do what God has called them to do and to help others discover and do the same. They’re contributing to the kingdom in their unique way, and they’re doing it to the very best of their ability. I know up-front people who are doing this, and I know behind-the-scenes people who are doing it. But all of them are humble.
And people are noticing and changing.
It doesn’t take fame or notoriety to live this way. In fact, it doesn’t take anything other than just a willingness to work hard, be humble and welcome the grace of Jesus.
With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church. Justin serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominantly working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.
I spent most of my 20s floundering around, trying to figure out what I was “supposed” to do with my life. Actually, from the outside, it probably didn’t look much like floundering (I went to college, graduate school and got a great job). But on the inside, I felt lost. Chaotic. Confused. And really curious as to what it meant to find my “true calling.”
So by the time I was in my mid-20s, I had followed all the rules of adult life and had many of the things a “grown-up” was supposed to have, but I still didn’t feel like my life had deep meaning.
I still didn’t know what I was here for.
What was my calling? Did God give everyone a calling? How was I supposed to find mine?
Inspired by the story of the Rich Young Ruler and encouragement from a friend, I quit my job, sold everything I owned, moved out of my apartment and set off on a road trip to discover my true calling. I learned so much while I traveled, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was what it means to discover a deep and meaningful purpose for your life.
Based on that experience, here are two questions I think you can ask yourself if you want to discover what God has called you to do.
1. What am I passionate about? I was always so scared to ask this question—or to answer it—because although I would call myself a passionate person, my passions sort of scared me. If I were to follow my passions—really follow them—where would they lead me?
I wasn’t sure.
And besides, weren’t passions kind of selfish and frivolous? Wasn’t I supposed to chase what God wanted for my life instead of what I wanted? Wasn’t that what being a Christian was all about?
What I discovered when I started to uncover my passions—and admit them—was that my desires and dreams could actually act like a window to what God wanted for me. Talking about my passions helped to unlock my purpose in life.
For me, this looked like quitting my job to chase my lifelong dream of traveling across the country and writing a book about it. And yes, in the beginning, the “passion” was a little bit crazy and unbridled and even a tiny bit selfish.
But as I submitted my passion to God and invited Him into the journey with me, the passion has grown and matured to be something deep and beautiful and lasting. And it continues to grow in this way, as long as I allow him to be part of it.
2. Where do I see my passion changing others? This is important because if I ask the first question without asking the second question, I might end up chasing my “dream” of becoming a singer/songwriter.
And why not? I love to sing in the shower and the car and into my bedroom mirror with my brush as a microphone.
I assure you, if I were to chase that passion, the world would not be a better place. I mean, I love to sing, but I love to sing far more than other people love to listen to me sing, if you know what I mean.
Maybe you love to golf, but you have to ask yourself: How is the world being changed by your golf game? Maybe you love drinking coffee, but how can you help people and serve people and reach people with that passion?
It’s certainly possible. Callings come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to ask the question.
Of course, this isn’t a perfect formula. I’m not pretending like it’s failproof or that callings are cut and dry or that they don’t sometimes flux and change in different seasons.
Right now, I’m called to write. But I believe later in life I will be called to be a mom, and maybe even a grandma, and probably a whole host of other things too. I believe we have more than one calling in a lifetime and that our callings are constantly unfolding.
But I guess the biggest tragedy would be if we didn’t believe we had a calling at all or we didn’t believe that it mattered so we ignored our passions altogether or ignored our capacity for serving and connecting to others.
Please don’t let that happen. The world will be a better place when more of us wake up to what we were put on this earth to do.
Allison Vesterfelt is a Christian author. Her book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage was recently released.
"Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. ... Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ. ... And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. ... And there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:4-8)
I’ve been thinking on this passage for a couple of days, and the more I read it, the more I see.
My faith is being challenged and my vision is being expanded.
Are you willing to believe God by actually beginning to act in faith on these three components of kingdom domination displayed by the first church in the book of Acts? read more