Wayne Swift queries this statement: ‘A judgmental attitude is birthed by a lack of faith in God and others.’
It’s made up and possibly right but could also be wrong. However this is something I’ve been thinking about and am simply sharing my ponderings below. You’ll need to make up your mind about how to handle this attitude when it turns up, especially in your own life as a church leader.
What’s happening on the inside when judgmental attitude develops?
Is it possible that a lack of faith in God forces us to take matters into control ourselves?
A judgment is, in such instances, a condemnation of behaviour and action. It’s a way of saying – if we take it onboard whether we’ve thought it or someone has said it …
• ‘I don’t measure up’
• ‘I’ve fallen short’
• ‘I’m not good enough.’
The standard used to judge expresses that individual’s interpretation of ‘expected behaviour and acceptability.’ It also assumes that the one (even God) who set the standard, is incapable of dealing with the matter himself and needs a person to announce judgment.
Faith or trust in God is the key issue
Three things here…
• Firstly, I think often we extend far less grace than God himself does
• Secondly, while the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, his objective is repentance not condemnation
• Thirdly, who appointed the ‘judgmental attitude’ to a place of superiority when it neither has all the facts nor interprets them objectively?
The remedy when this ‘attitude’ creeps in is to remind ourselves that God is in control, that he will handle the issues that concern him, and that we are neither all-knowing nor perfect. The same grace we have freely received ought to be freely extended to others.
I’m still not sure if the statement is correct, it popped into my mind early one morning as I was out running, but for me it prompted some thoughts. What about you?
Wayne Swift pastors The Church@1330, Scoresby, Victoria and is National Leader, Apostolic Church Australia. Links: Wayne.Swift@1330.com.au / Church: www.the-church.org.au
SEVEN WAYS TO BE A COMMUNITY-BUILDING PASTOR
Ron Edmondson challenges leaders that ‘To be a kingdom-building pastor you must be a community-building pastor.’
I admit that ‘must’ is a strong word—and there are few things that I’m emphatic about unless they are biblical, but I do believe that in order for us to reach people today we have to get outside the walls of our church buildings. And, that means we must do something intentional to make that happen.
The community has to know – and believe – that we really do care for them. For me, being a community builder makes sense – and seems most effective.
And we do love our community already, don’t we? I certainly hope so. We believe we have the hope for the world as our central teaching. The gospel is not to be a hidden truth but the light in the city on the highest hill. That means we must take our light into the world.
So the fair question to follow a post like that is how do you do it? How can a pastor – or ministry leader -be a community builder? I don’t have all the ideas, but I have some suggestions.
Here are seven ways to be a community-minded pastor
1. Know key leaders
I think you should know who the leaders in the community are and know as many of them personally as possible. You may not be able to know the mayor of your city, depending on the city’s size, but could you know your local council representative? Could you know a school board member?
You’ll be surprised how receptive many politicians are when constituents contact them – especially a leader who has an audience with a significant number of people. (And anything over an average household can be considered significant.)
Let me be clear that I never endorse candidates in my official capacity, but I do vote, and it’s amazing when you’re active in the community how many people in your church want to know who you support.
2. Listen to concerns
Wherever you are, wherever you go, whatever you do in the community – whether at city hall, a school meeting or the grocery store or barbershop, listen to hear the things people are talking about around you. If you hear repeated themes, you can almost guess that’s an issue on people’s minds.
And if you aren’t hearing anything – ask. Actually, ask anyway. And don’t hear for what you want to do or where your church is already serving. Listen with an open mind to the real concerns of people. You may have different answers than they’ve thought of before. You know how to organise people. You represent people you can organise. That’s a powerful combination when addressing community needs.
3. Love what they love
I’ll get disagreement to this one, but I think it’s one of the more effective ways to be a community builder. I’m specifically talking about loving the culture of the city. I’ve seen pastors bash their community online. That’s foolish in my opinion. You can talk against community concerns in a way to rally support for a cause without bashing the community. People often feel about where they live – especially if they grew up there – the way they feel about their family. They can say bad things about them, but you had better not.
But here’s where I’ll get the most disagreement – to me, this also includes loving the traditions they love – including their local sports teams. I was visiting a church recently and the pastor joked about the local college team. He referred to the fans as ‘sinners.’ The crowd gave a rousing disapproval – and they laughed. It was funny.
I couldn’t help but wonder, however, how much more effective he could have been endearing people to his leadership if he was ‘on their side’ rather than always blatantly rooting for an opponent. It must be genuine, of course. God has called me to reach people in this community, and I’ve discovered they love that I’m learning their unique culture and exploring and enjoying the uniqueness that we have. And don’t misunderstand, it is absolutely genuine for me. I am intentionally trying to love the people to whom God has placed me to minister – and part of that – as I would do for any family member – is learning to love the things they love.
4. Learn the community
One of the best things I did when I moved to Lexington two years ago is go through the Leadership Lexington program. The following year, I went through Leadership Central Kentucky. I quickly learned things I might never have known about the community. It’s amazing now how I can answer questions about things we offer in the community that people can’t answer who have lived here for years. Most communities have something like this. Often they are found connected somehow to the local Chamber of Commerce or equivalent. You can also sign up for any local tours that the community offers.
If the town is too small for anything like this, make appointments with people who are known for their years of service to the community. Go prepared with questions and pick their brains about the community. Cheryl and I recently started volunteering at the city’s visitor centre. We are doing this to give back, but also to get even more familiar with the city and what it has to offer.
5. Build your community network
You never know when you’re going to need it. Plus, there will always be people you may not know, but people in your network will know them. I’m consistently asking people to connect me with people I should know in the community. And that’s in all sectors.
Don’t limit your network to those society considers influential. I recently had one homeless person tell me of another that I needed to know, because he is an influence in that segment.
6. Serve somewhere in the community, besides your church
I think this is critical in community building, but also simply the right thing to do. As pastors, we expect people to serve in the church. It’s only fair for us to give back to the community that is giving to us. Plus, we need to lead the way so that others in the church will serve in the community also. Finally, it’s the best way to meet people who need the hope that we have to share.
7. Lead your church to be community builders
This begins with a general desire to see the people of the church investing in the community. But it won’t happen by accident. It takes intentional teaching and serving by example. And most of all it takes consistency. This isn’t something we do in a campaign once a year. This must be a lifestyle – getting the church into the community – being community builders – so we can eventually be kingdom builders.
What other suggestions do you have to be a community builder?
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he’s been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years. Adapted from the recommended ChristianLeaders
FIVE WAYS TO CULTIVATE GENEROSITY IN YOUR CHURCH
Dick Hardy, Pastoral Leadership Consultant emails:
My wife and I are currently watching a 12-year old BBC television series called Monarch of the Glen. It’s a lightweight, fun program with all sorts of interesting dramatic twists and turns. A number of episodes into the series, a 30-something female banker has come on the scene of the sinking McDonald Estate.
We find it fascinating how the writers have typecast the young banker as such a black and white businesswoman that she fails to see the whole of the family and the estate. I told my wife, ‘This character is actually playing out Scrooge!’
Do you have a few folks (Scrooges) like that in the church you serve? It’s all about the cents and nothing about the mission for them. Fortunately most pastors are blessed with wonderful people who are extremely generous. However, there are always times when we can challenge others and ourselves to a higher level of generosity.
Over the years I’ve discovered six ways to cultivate generosity in the church. This certainly is not an exhaustive list but I think it’s a good one to consider as you plan any efforts to encourage giving in your church.
First things first. Whenever you embark on an effort to encourage people in any area of their lives, always pray first. Don’t start in with your own plan and then in the fourth quarter of your effort say, ‘Oh, I should probably ask God to help me here.’ No. Pray first. Ask for his guidance on every effort to lead and teach the body about anything and certainly in the area of generosity.
It is important for leaders to lead. You’re the leader and while you may not be telling everyone the amounts you’re giving, the church needs to know you are leading the way in giving. Tell them that you believe in the principles of giving as articulated in scripture and you practise them.
3. Broaden the focus
While at the end of the day we do need to pay the bills, it is critical we talk about generosity in terms beyond money. Are people generous with themselves, their time, their non-cash resources, their spirit and such? Help people understand the breadth of generosity and how it impacts them and the church in phenomenal ways.
4. Share Testimonies
There is nothing better than hearing stories of how people have learned to give. You have people in your church who, after having been challenged by you to tithe or give in some special way, have watched God do amazing things in their own lives and finances. Get the story on video and share it with the church. It encourages everyone.
5. Tie to Mission
People give to people and people give to causes. People don’t give to things. We may think our budget needs ‘things’ but what our budget should really reflect is the mission of the church. People want to give to efforts bigger than themselves. Don’t challenge people to replace the carpet. Challenge them to create spaces for life change, for the transformation of people far from God to fully devoted followers of Christ.
After a few decades of ministry in the local church, I’m more convinced than ever that people want to give, they want to be generous. Some of them just don’t know how. Some of them need to hear encouraging stories of how God responds to our generosity. They need to understand how their generosity ties to the mission of the church.
I can assure you, if you pray, model, broaden, teach, share and tie to mission, you will watch an increase in generosity in your church. ‘Give and it will be given to you’ is still true. Whatever you do, embark on this journey to encourage generosity with enthusiasm. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll experience as a result.
Dick Hardy, Springfield, Mo, USA, believes that leaders can grow and church doesn’t have to be what it always has been. Link: firstname.lastname@example.org
FIVE THINGS LONG-TERM LEADERS MASTER (AND QUITTERS NEVER DO)
Carey Nieuwhof, Lead Pastor at Connexus Community Church north of Toronto Canada, shares some great truth.
Myths are everywhere. But there are also leadership myths Very rarely does success come from jumping from one venture to another every few years. And very rarely does long-term impact happen from short-term tenure.
And yet in ministry and in life, people often jump from venture to venture or church to church, hoping the next fit is better than the last, only to be perpetually disappointed.
One of the things that characterises most leaders who make an impact in our generation is staying power. Andy Stanley has been at North Point since he started it 19 years ago.
Rick Warren has served at Saddleback for three decades. Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, Steven Furtick and so many more have all had or are working on long-term ministries.
Many leaders leave before their critical breakthrough
In my view, too many leaders leave too often before critical breakthroughs happen.
Most people who become ‘overnight’ successes have put in a decade or more before anything really noteworthy has happened.
I’m not saying leaders should never leave. It’s just if you go too early, you can miss out on so much.
Here are five things every leader who stays long-term learns to master
1. Being unpopular
Long-term leadership has seasons, and in some of those seasons you become unpopular. Sometimes it’s a sign you need to work on something. So work on it. But other times it’s because you’re committed to doing what people need, not simply what they want. That’s what great leaders do.
So sometimes you just have to be prepared to be misunderstood. There are very few biblical characters who were ever perfectly understood.
Eventually, people will see what you were trying to do. Hang around long enough to let them see it.
Even if they never do, God does. Regardless, learning to withstand seasons of unpopularity builds your character and often is the key to getting important things done in leadership.
2. Personal growth
It’s easy to change an organisation (at least at first), it’s much more difficult to change you. To thrive long-term, you have to be relentlessly committed to personal growth.
Face your demons. Learn from your mistakes. And get the help you need to grow and get better.
3. Trusting God more than themselves
The change you can bring happens quickly. Most of us are skilled enough to look good for a season and change things enough to bring progress. But then we run out of ideas.
The change (transformation even) that God brings happens over time. To sustain a long term vision for ministry requires a growing faith and trust in God.
4. The character to withstand highs and lows
A great season doesn’t mean you’re great. And a terrible season doesn’t mean you’re terrible. You’re never as great as your best moment and never as terrible as your worst.
Long-term leaders learn not to ride the highs too high or the lows too low. They learn from each season while anticipating the next.
5. Developing a trusted inner circle
Most long-term leaders I know have a circle of people who love them, are genuine friends and tell them the truth. These are the people who keep you grounded.
Quitters are often isolated. It’s easier to pick people off one by one than in strong teams and groups. If you want a few tips on how to develop an excellent inner circle. Once again, it’s not that you should never leave, it’s just that you should never leave for the wrong reasons.
What has kept you in the game over the longer haul? What skills have you mastered because you decided to stay?
Adapted from the recommended ChristianLeaders . More from Carey Nieuwhof, careynieuwhof.com