FIVE LEADERSHIP VISIONS AND CHALLENGES
Wayne Swift, national church leader, writes:
In their book, The Leadership Challenge Journal, James Kouzes and Barry Posner state that there are five practices of exemplary leadership.
Although first written over 30 years ago, resulting from a large research project, and has been revised multiple times, yet these five practices have stayed the same.
• Model the way
• Inspire a shared vision
• Challenge the process
• Enable others to act
• Encourage the heart.
I appreciate what can be learned from books like this but as I read I can’t help but seeing Jesus’ method laid out before me.
Jesus modelled the way we are to live, think and act. He showed us how to treat people, love them and forgive them.
There is no vision that could ever come close to that which Jesus carried. The reconciliation of man to God is extraordinary and seemingly impossible – yet today 2000 years later we share that same vision and billions along with us!
Jesus challenged the practices that governed daily life, the values and culture of the time in which he lived with his new way of seeing the world. He literally re-valued everything.
Jesus doesn’t just present vision.
He also calls and empowers us to achieve that which he has planted in our hearts.
My Bible says, ‘Christ lives within me.’ He is on call to encourage and inspire if only we would tune in.
Leadership is a challenge but we have the Master to follow.
HEY – COMPANY’S COMING!
Dick Hardy, pastoral leadership consultant, makes a valid point:
Tom’s a good friend of mine. The time was Christmas. He was far from home at a military base.
Good people invited him to their family Christmas gathering. Kindness extraordinaire! Unfortunately it was the worst Christmas he’d ever experienced. Why?
Fish out of water!
Think about it. With all the good intentions of wonderful people who invited Tom into their home, there was one thing Tom could never be. He wasn’t born into the family nor did he marry into the family. He was the outside guy, a fish out of water.
How did Tom feel? There was a whole mixed bag of feelings. He started with gratitude that someone was thoughtful enough to invite him. He figured it beat the pants off of sitting alone or with a couple of guys back at the base. He really was thankful for that and understood what that family was trying to do for him.
At the same time there was no way he could be on the inside of everything they talked about. Aunt Mildred’s gall bladder surgery, while Tom was sympathetic to it, really didn’t connect with his thoughts of holiday celebrations.
The whole family knew of brothers Bob and Bill as regular competitors cheering for the Broncos and Chiefs respectively. This was interesting to watch but for non-family member, Tom, the passion to engage was missing. The family didn’t notice.
So what about church?
If I’ve heard this once from a pastor, I’ve heard it a hundred times. ‘Our church is a really friendly church.’ No pastor ever says to me, ‘We’re a really grouchy church!’ Never.
The problem is the church is really friendly – to itself. Not so much to the guests, although many don’t want to admit it.
Is your church more of a family reunion or do you prepare church as if ‘company’ were coming? I mean really. If you think about it we love to tout the fact that we are all about family. We encourage people to connect with their church family.
The problem with ‘family’ is that we can become all about us ‘inside’ the family as opposed to focusing on those ‘outside’ the family. When it’s ‘just us’ we can accept things that, if we were preparing for company, would be absolutely unacceptable.
At least at our house, when company is coming, I have a whole bunch of things my wife tells me need to be done. The house is prepared differently when company is coming. I have to shut the garage door and the whole house (whether dirty or not) has to be cleaned, top to bottom.
Treating guests well
We treat our guests at the highest possible level at our house. We’re nice to the kids, grandkids, in-laws and outlaws, but to the guests we’re over-the-top because we want them to feel comfortable and welcome.
In church I encourage everyone to shift from a sense of ‘it’s all about us in the family’ to ‘it’s all about the guests who might visit us.’ When you focus on the guests you actually provide an even greater level of service to the family.
So if you find the people in your church like to be with each other so much that even when they invite guests they try to act like a family reunion, I’d encourage you to begin the process of retraining them.
The clarion call needs to be:
• ‘Company’s coming! Let’s get ready and roll out the red carpet!’
• Forget the insider talk that only we know and engage in outsider talk.
• Talk like you really are more interested in them than in each other.
We love family! At church we love family and even more importantly the ‘company’ God brings our way in the form of guests Sunday-in and Sunday-out.
When we do this we please the heart of the Father as he regularly brings people across the paths of our churches to receive ministry. It’s a high calling to be a place where we are glad ‘company’s coming.’
See Resources for Dick Hardy’s Right Turns – Link: firstname.lastname@example.org
SEVEN REASONS PEOPLE LEAVE THE CHURCH
Ron Edmondson, leadership specialist, observes continuous repetition…
One disappointment I have had in ministry is watching people come to church, get excited for a time, then disappear. You spend energy and heart on people, grow to love them and get excited about them, and suddenly they are nowhere to be found.
The biggest disappointment is not people who transfer to another church. I’m OK with that if it helps them better grow in their relationship with Christ. I’m talking about people who quit going to church altogether. They are in one day – out the next.
What happens to them? Why do they leave?
I’ve found there are often similar reasons that are repeated continuously. Perhaps you have seen this too.
Here are seven reasons people disappear from church:
These people came out of the gate too strong in the church. They showed up, got excited and signed up for everything. They got so busy doing church they failed to enjoy being the church.
People inside the church can be cruel. I hate when that happens, but it’s true. These people experienced some of those people and they couldn’t move past it.
These people got distracted by seemingly good things. They were playing travel ball, loving the fast life, travelling every weekend. Over time, their lifestyle of attending becomes the habit of not attending.
They had a lifestyle change, such as divorce or remarriage – or they move to a new community – and never reconnect with a church.
These people messed up! They made a mistake that may be public – or at least they feel that it will be known – and the place that should dispense grace appears to either refuse it or they feel that it would. Many times when a person feels that way it is more perception than reality, but the way a person feels about themselves may determine whether they remain committed to church.
These people had an agenda. They were pursuing an issue – or a position – and when their demands weren’t met and they couldn’t overpower the system, they left.
Lack of connection
They never connected with others on a deeper level. As a result, they never really felt part of the church.
Pastors, have you experienced such people in ministry? How do you address these issues?
Obviously, we need to do all we can to help people become disciples. Knowing why they leave may be helpful. We can’t address some of these issues – maybe most – much of this is out of our control. But the more we understand, the more we can help people as they experience these.
I think there is also a word here to the one who has disappeared or is on the verge. Beware. If you feel the need for the church in your life – or if you understand the biblical mandate to be a part of a body of believers – then guard your heart for these. And help us know how to be a better church. In fact, come help us be a better church. Here’s one pastor (and I know so many others) who is listening.
Pastor Ron Edmondson is passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. With over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, he’s been helping church grow vocationally for over 10 years.
SEVEN HABITS OF JOYFUL PASTORS
Thom Rainer shares practical suggestions for increasing your joy in Christ.
I have in front of me the names of 20 pastors I know well. It did not take long to assemble the names by the specific traits I sought. Simply said, I wanted to find out whose names I would include in looking for pastors who are joyful. The list was simple, easy and fun to compile. Just noting each of their names brought a smile to my face.
Yes, I understand that such an exercise is highly subjective. I would not put my evidence before the rigors of scientific research. But I still think the results are worthy of note.
Having gathered the names, I then asked these questions: Why do I think each of these pastors is joyful? More specifically, what traits do I see in them that illustrate the joy that they have? My reflections produced seven such traits.
1. They read their Bible daily
Their time in the Word is above and beyond sermon preparation time or teaching preparation. They make certain they read and study the Bible for their own edification and spiritual growth.
2. They have a daily prayer time
All of them have quiet times alone with God. Many include their spouses in additional prayer times. They feel they cannot be the servants God has called them to be unless they are in regular conversations with the God they serve.
3. They literally put their family time on their calendars
They make certain their children and spouses have time with them. Most of them have regular dates with their spouses and specific plans for their children each week.
4. They have a long-term perspective
These pastors understand that the criticism of today will be a non-issue tomorrow. They don’t feel the need to make disruptive changes. And they tend to develop rich relationships with members in the church because they plan to be around awhile.
5. They love to work with and help other churches
They have no sense of competition with other churches in the community. Indeed, they willingly and gladly work alongside them. They have great relationships with fellow pastors who serve in the same ministry area.
6. They have a great sense of humour
I have spoken to each of the 20 pastors on my list on numerous occasions. It is rare for our conversations to end without some healthy laughter. These pastors take their ministries seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. They are willing and eager to laugh at themselves.
7. They rarely blame others or their circumstances
These pastors don’t typically exhibit a ‘victim mentality.’ They take responsibility for their ministries and others. It is rare to hear them complain or engage in conversations about the inadequacies of others or the rotten situations they encountered.
The apostle Paul wrote from a prison to the Philippian church: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!’ (Philippians 4:4). Paul’s joy didn’t depend on his circumstances; it was not measured by human successes. Instead, it simply but profoundly rested in the Lord. So it is with these pastors.
They represent churches in 15 states. They serve in churches as small as 75 in weekly attendance and as large as multiple thousands. Some have been in very difficult situations, while others have not. Regardless of their lot, they have all found joy in the Lord. The seven traits above are both the result of their joy and the cause of it.
These pastors are my heroes. I need to learn so much more from them
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay.com). His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.
TEN SIGNS YOU’RE ATTENDING A GREAT CHURCH
Greg Stier shares…
When you’re plugged into a church that’s focused on the things of God, you can tell the difference.
I love the church. She is Christ’s bride and the key to cultural transformation. In that sense, every church is great. But let’s be honest, there are a ton of churches that leave much to be desired when it comes to truly making a difference in their congregations and communities. So, when you plug into a church that is getting it done, it’s a true blessing.
Of course there are no perfect churches, but there are many that are pressing toward the high water mark we see in scripture.
Here are 10 signs you may be going to a great local church:
1. It is led by a team of godly leaders not a Lone Ranger pastor who gathers Tonto-type leaders around him to say ‘Yes, Kemo Sabe’ to his each and every idea (Titus 1:5-9).
2. The gospel is central to every sermon, program and meeting (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) and the advancement of it both locally and globally drive strategic initiatives (Acts 1:8).
3. People are using their spiritual gifts not just watching the “stage team” exercise theirs (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), resulting in disciples being made and multiplied (2 Timothy 2:2).
4. It, like the early church, is integrated, fully representing the demographic of the community in which it resides (Ephesians 2:11-21).
5. Love, demonstrating itself in friendliness, generosity, internal/external care programs and community involvement, dominates the atmosphere (1 Corinthians 13:1-8).
6. Most likely there is a thriving small group program where members truly can have great biblical conversations, share struggles and pray with/for each other (James 5:16).
7. The people are being inspired and equipped to share their faith relationally, resulting in more and more new believers being added to the church (Acts 2:47).
8. The teaching/preaching is biblical, theological and immensely practical (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-4).
9. Ministry to children and teenagers are top priorities, not afterthoughts (Titus 2:1-8; Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
10. Intercessory prayer fuels everything. It’s the engine, not the carriage, of how the church rolls from top to bottom (1 Timothy 2:1-8).
These are 10 signs you may be going to a great church. What are some other signs?
© 2014 Dare 2 Share Ministries. Greg Stier is the President and Founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries mobilising teenagers across America to share their faith. Link: Visit Greg at www.dare2share.org
RECOMMENDED LEADERSHIP LINKS
• The Hardy Group http://www.thehardygroup.org
• Faith & Leadership http://www.faithandleadership.com
• NACBA MultiBrief http://www.multibriefs.com/briefs/nacba/
• Breaking Christian News http://www.breakingchristiannews.com
• My Christian Daily http://www.mychristiandaily.com/
• Leadership Journal Newsletter http://www.christianitytoday.com
• Church Leaders Update http://www.churchleaders.com
• Dan Black On Leadership http://www.danblackonleadership.com