Karen Hewitt writes…
We have all heard it said that our message never changes but the way we deliver it should because our society changes.
For our churches to reach a world of lost people we must be intentional about how we run our services. So often we hear something and think ‘I should examine that’ and never do. This is a friendly reminder.
Take time with the Holy Spirit to identify your purpose in running a service… Who is it for?
• The Christ follower who attends regularly?
• The visitor?
• Or the non- believer?
I believe it needs to be for all three, which makes it a little more difficult. Nevertheless, our services should make the visitor and the unchurched feel welcome and accepted and the weekly church-attending Christian feel encouraged and inspired.
There are several people that make a service work…
To be a good worship leader means being open to the Holy Spirit and to be inspired by him.
Worship leaders should know how to sing and lead. Singing without leading doesn’t take the people anywhere. Likewise leading without being able to sing takes people somewhere not too pleasant!
The SL is not an MC. He or she makes the service work. Under the direction from the Spirit of God they should take the people on a journey, without distractions. Distractions are the interruptions like awkward pauses –
• Spots in the service when something is missed or lack of flow from one thing to another
• Cringe moments – people take over, something stupid and unnecessary is done or said
• Dead air – a pause or silence not Holy Spirit-inspired.
He or she should be engaging, relevant and able to present well with good content. The message should be one that is building into the lives of all people.
• A thought about Jesus and what he did.
• Must be quick, exciting and engaging.
• Needs to be creative and relevant to whatever it is linking together.
Planning is part of being intentional about how our services look and flow. A run sheet is a great way to do this. Put everything on it that needs to go into the service with times for each item and stick to it.
Most people don’t appreciate a service that runs way over time and it had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit (although we often blame him!). Mostly, it’s just bad planning. Make sure there are good links between each element so as to create a good flow.
Remember, we want a service that creates a great distraction-free environment so people can feel welcomed, invited and comfortable entering into our time together.
The most important thing is they leave wanting to come back.
Karen Hewitt and her husband Dale are the Senior Ministers of Dreambuilders Churches in Perth, Bunbury and Darwin. Karen also serves on the National Leadership team of the Apostolic Church Australia. Links: www.dreambuilderschurch.net / info- AT – dreambuilderschurch.net
DEALING WITH CRITICS WHO ARE ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS
More often than not, the criticism is unfounded. However, because many of us are people-pleasers, we take too much of this to heart and it makes a mess of our heads. Young leaders are particularly susceptible to these criticisms.
Unfounded criticism challenge
We like to think that when a ‘founded’ criticism comes our way, we are ready to hear and be better. It may not be fun, but we do want to know.
However, when a clueless critic presents their criticism, how do we handle that? Here are some thoughts on processing unfounded criticism, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Do a pre-emptive strike
Never wait for the critics to show up. Trust me, they’re out there. While planning for the best, always prepare for the worst when it comes to these people. Get ahead of the criticism.
When you sense something may be coming your way, get ahead of it. As Barney Fife famously noted, ‘Nip it! Nip it in the bud!’
Consider the source
When the person is someone new to you or your organisation and they have no history of involvement, I would place a low value on their criticism. Still listen – but do not go far with it.
Remember, it’s a small minority
Usually the criticism comes from a small minority, grumbling and complaining. They do so stating that a lot of people are upset at what you are doing. This small minority seldom come to you directly with their criticism.
Have a strong leadership team
A strong board can be invaluable when a ruckus resulting in criticism starts in the church. This is where being pre-emptive comes in to play as well.
Attempt to correct perception
A critic may simply have wrong information. When you present accurate information to them sometimes they will listen… although sometimes not. Be prepared for either.
Don’t be drawn into typical debates
Frequently the critic wants to engage you in a deep theological debate in which many have engaged in the past.
While you are the spiritual leader of the church, know there will be critics of your doctrinal stances and interpretations of scripture. Communicate to the one who disagrees with you most vehemently that folks a lot smarter than the two of you added together have debated the issues and never come to agreement.
Stake out your position without engaging in a debate that will never be won with critics whose criticism is unfounded.
Sometimes … call the critic on unfounded criticism
Do not roll over like a puppy dog. When criticism comes your way there are times to call the critic on the error of criticism.
There are times when they need to know which end is up and that the leader is not some wimp that they can attack at will. Do not go looking for a fight but also don’t roll over when the critic is wrong.
It may not be worth the fight
When unfounded criticism comes your way, do all you can to not give it emotional energy. That’s easy to write about and not near as easy to do. Remember, it is the Lord who brings vindication.
Maintain your testimony
Reacting poorly to even the most off-the-wall criticism is not worth it. Your testimony of what God has done in your life is far more valuable. Never forfeit that.
Apply 1 Peter 5:7
Your anxiety should be with the Lord, not with you and not with the purveyor of unfounded criticism. Cast it on him because he cares for you.
At the end of the day you need to have your head screwed on straight with these critics. They are truly clueless and they can mess with your head. Do not let that happen. Be gracious and kind. Be forthright and clear. Pray for the critic and do not do so in a condescending way.
Even the best leaders in scripture, Old Testament and New Testament, had their clueless critics. Jesus certainly had his. You have yours. Give the care of these criticisms to the Lord and watch him move your ministry forward in spite of unfounded criticism.
In all things be secure in who God called you to be. It sounds trite, but when you do, God takes care of the clueless critics and their unfounded criticisms.
Think spot: What other thoughts should a leader take into consideration when dealing with unfounded criticism?
Dick Hardy, Springfield, Mo, USA, believes that leaders can grow and church doesn’t have to be what it always has been. See Resources for his dynamic book, Right Turns. The Hardy Group highly recommended link: http://www.thehardygroup.org ____________________________________________________________________________________
THE MEASURE OF TRUE SHEPHERDSHIP
Tim Jack reminds all church leaders that Jesus’ words in John 10 about the sheepfold are worthy of consideration:
Jesus speaks of those who enter the fold through the door. They are shepherds while those who climb over the walls are thieves and robbers.
At face value, these observations are self-evident. But his hearers didn’t immediately understand his meaning so Jesus developed the theme further and, in so doing, outlined some leadership principles for all who serve him.
Many people, for a range of reasons, seek access to the sheep. There are valid reasons for seeking access to the sheep and, of course, many invalid reasons.
It is motivation that validates or invalidates the desire to access the sheepfold. Those who climb the wall seek access for their own benefit – illegitimate access for illegitimate reasons. Those who come through the gate are true shepherds and a shepherd’s desire is always to benefit the sheep.
Shepherds may all look alike but, under the microscope of deeper scrutiny, their motivation exposes their true character. The heart of the shepherd is revealed in times of difficulty and danger. The true shepherd, or good shepherd to use Jesus’ words, lays down his life for his sheep.
Jesus makes the point that the false shepherd is no shepherd at all! The false shepherd flees at the first sign of trouble (v 12-13). The false shepherd cares more for himself than he cares for the sheep. The ultimate test of the shepherd, then, is his care for the sheep.
Benefiting others or self-focusing
Not many of us who are in church leadership have anything to do with actual sheep. But we are all leaders in God’s house, and are, therefore, under-shepherds of his flock – the church. And the measure of leadership and ministry applied to leaders is the shepherd’s test.
‘Does my leadership primarily benefit others or is it primarily self-focused?’ is a question that helps us analyse our own motivation.
The good shepherd loves the sheep and expects that under-shepherds will love the sheep, too.
Tim Jack, former National Leader Apostolic Church Australia, continues serving ACA as a member of the National Leadership Team and is contactable for ministry: timwjack AT tpg.com.au / 0412 277 918 ____________________________________________________________________________________