Category Archives: Leadership

Quote Of The Week

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The hero of mythology descends from the sky, gaining fame and glory through courage, violence, and power. He then dies, His grave becoming a sight of hero worship. Christ defies this cycle. He emerges from the tomb, remaking the world with resurrection power, ascending to heaven because of His humility, His servant leadership. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the world would never be the same. Those who bow their knee at the foot of the cross admitting the absurdity of their own efforts to be godlike, who confess the chaos and sin within them, now enter into a new way of being–one not driven by striving, agenda, or applause. For these followers of Jesus would be taught to follow this new way of living…service!

(taken from Facing Leviathan by Mark Sayers, location 2235 in Kindle)

From Worry To Prayer

Here’s a good and challenging word from Paul Miller in his book A Praying Life

When you pray continuously, moments when you are prone to anxiety can become invitations to drift into prayer. A traffic jam, a slight from a friend, a pressured deadline can serve as a door to God. You’ll find yourself turning off the car radio to be with your Father. You’ll wake up at night and discover yourself praying. It will be like breathing.

When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.

Resolved…

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Jonathan Edwards, during the years 1722 to 1723, while a young man, composed a set of resolutions for himself. For Edwards, these resolutions were a way for him to gauge his relationship to Christ as well as to provide a set of goals for his life.

Throughout his life, these resolutions were his constant companion as he resolved “to read over these resolutions once a week.” Stephen  Nichols thinks we might benefit from doing the same. He writes that the Resolutions are as relevant today as they were when [Edwards] first penned them so long ago. Reading though them on a regular basis may very well help us also to live with all of our might to the glory and praise of God.

While each of Edwards’ seventy resolutions are valid and worthy of reciting, there are a few that personally seemed to rise above the rest.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

7. Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully an constantly what that one thing in me is that causes me in the least to doubt the love of God; and so direct all my forces against it.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of them.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do if I had already seen the happiness of heaven and the torments of hell.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fifth with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life ling, that is, with the greatest openness I am capably of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my should to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and everything, and every circumstance.

70. Let there be something of benevolence in all that I speak.

As you can see, though written almost 300 years ago, these resolutions continue to challenge and speak to the heart. Though Edwards did not write these resolutions to be published, we benefit greatly because they were.

The Millennials: Are We Reaching Them?

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Do we have a problem in reaching millennials? 

This is a question that continues to be asked and researched. And it’s one that has risen to the top once again as LifeWay Christian Resources recently announced that for the seventh straight year, the Southern Baptist Convention’s overall membership declined.

One of the reasons for such decline is apparently due to the lack of growth among the millennials.

It has been reported that 46,000 churches of the Southern Baptist Convention are baptizing fewer people this year, and most of our churches are not baptizing any millennials (which means, depending on generational calculations, people between the ages of 14-34, or, teenagers through early thirties).

So why is this happening? 

According to a recent task force of pastors, evangelists, and other leaders, there are 5 reasons for the problem of low baptisms

Spiritual: We need a sense of brokenness and repentance over the spiritual climate of our churches and our nation.

Leadership: Many pastors have confessed to being overwhelmed in the operation and ministries of the church to the neglect of being involved in regular personal evangelism.

Discipleship: Many pastors have confessed to focusing on attendance while giving little attention to reproducing fruit-bearing disciples who are involved in intentional evangelism.

The Next Generation: Although our churches have increasingly provided programs for children, students and young adults, we are not being effective in winning and discipling the next generation to follow Christ.

Celebration: Many of our churches have chosen to celebrate other things as a measure of their success rather than new believers following Christ in baptism. We have drifted into a loss of expectation.

So what is to be done?

Should we go into crisis mode? Maybe. Maybe not. I still trust in the power of the gospel and know personally that God is working and calling people unto Himself. And He is doing so among the millennials as well.

However, these reports are cause for reflection. They should lead us to think beyond our methods to what we are actually trusting in to reach today’s young people.

First and foremost, we need to ensure that we are preaching, teaching, and conversing about what Paul saw as “first importance” which is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…was buried, and was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Thomas Kidd writes that if we are going to reach the next generation, we must “offer the transcendent, compelling message of the gospel.” He adds that “people have to see why church is so compelling that they would bother to get out of bed on Sunday morning. Moralistic pabulum and vague niceties don’t cut it. Pastors and teachers need to constantly trumpet the shocking claims of the gospel.

Ensuring the gospel is proclaimed does include a reexamination of our methods however. We want to speak in a way to be understood. We need to be able to relate to those around us.

Once again, Kidd offers a good word. He writes that though “getting a Twitter account and providing free wi-fi at your church is not going to win the adherence battle for you alone, neither will refusing to adjust methods and style be of any help. Churches should adopt a generous, outward-focused attitude toward young people who are making faith and church decisions, and ‘cater’ to the forms of communication that speak to them.”

I want to mention one final thought concerning reaching the millennials. It comes from Trevin Wax.  He writes that “Southern Baptists have a millennial problem because Southern Baptist millennials have an evangelism problem.”

Wax, therefore, urges his fellow millennials “to repent of [their] evangelistic apathy, step up [their] efforts at personal evangelism, and get [their] hands dirty serving people in Jesus’ name.”

Such words from Wax however, cause me to think about why millennials have an “evangelism problem?” Is it because evangelism hasn’t been modeled for them? Have they seen evangelism as more of a program than a way of life? Or could it be that their abandonment of evangelism is a reaction to past methods they deem as non-personal and obtrusive?

Regardless, we as the church, in this day and age, need to allow this SBC report to push us to pray and encourage each other in reaching future generations. We have much we can learn from each other.

 

 

 

 

5 Things To Learn From The San Antonio Spurs

Even if you are not a Spurs fan, or even a fan of basketball, there are some things we can appreciate and learn from the way they play basketball.

1. Team comes first.

So many times we promote the individual and we leave out what’s important…TEAM. The Spurs are not seeking a lot glamour. They have gotten over themselves.

Their attitude is: I have a shot, you have a better shot.

2. Character is critical.

The Spurs don’t get knuckleheads, they don’t get clowns, they don’t get guys with huge egos, they get guys that do what they are told to do.

3. There are times to lead and times to follow.

The Spurs know how to execute a game plan. They do what they are told and they do it with class. Players believe in their coaches and the coaches believe in their players. They each give credit to each other.

Each person on the team has a role and they accept it. Each knows when he needs to lead and when he needs to follow.

4. Commitment is vital.

The Spurs understand what they want and are committed to it. Everybody is in the same circle and they believe in it. They are all in it together.

5. It’s not always about the glitz.

If you are a purist about the game of basketball, you watch the Spurs play. If you want the glitz and glamour, you may watch another team.

How can we miss what the Spurs do night in and night out? The Spurs play basic fundamental basketball and we need to appreciate what they are doing. They do all the little things well. How is it that we don’t appreciate what they do?

 

Knowing The Culture Around Us

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Do we know the culture around us? Do we know our neighborhood, it’s people, and their stories, values, and worldview?

Tim Chester believes we should be asking ourselves the kind of questions missionaries ask when they enter a new culture. In doing so, we are better able to understand those around us and thus meet their needs with the gospel.

Here are the questions he poses…

Where?
  • Where are the places and activities we can meet people?
  • Where do people experience community?
  • Are there existing social networks with which we engage, or do we need to find ways of creating community within a neighborhood?
  • Where should we be to have missional opportunities?
When?
  • What are the patterns and timescales of our neighborhood
  • When are the times we can connect with people?
  • How do people organize their time?
  • What cultural experiences and celebrations do people value? How might these be used as bridges to the gospel?
  • When should we be available to have missional opportunities?
What?
  • What are people’s fears, hopes, and hurts?
  • What gospel stories are told in the neighborhood? What gives people identity (creation)? How do they account for wrong in the world (fall)? What is their solution (redemption)? What are their hopes (consummation)?
  • What are the barrier beliefs or assumptions that cause people to dismiss the gospel?
  • What sins will the gospel first confront and heal?
  • In what ways are people self-righteous?
  • What is the good news for people in this neighborhood?
  • What will the church look like for people in this neighborhood?

(from Everyday Church by Tim Chester, 42-43)

Did The Early Church Have A Plan To Grow?

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Did the early church have a plan to grow? Since I have been writing some about the growth of early Christianity (you can find a summation of the articles here), I find it to be an important question.

As I began to think about it, I came across a post by Ray Ortland that grabbed my attention.

He writes…

I remember hearing Michael Green at the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in 1974. He asked us, Why don’t we see anywhere in the book of Acts a man-made strategic plan for evangelizing the world? His answer: They didn’t have one.

What then did they have? Two things, for starters: the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

In the fear of the Lord, they were teachable, they were humble, they were listening to the gospel, they were open and grateful and easily bendable. They did not have a spirit of self-assurance. They were eager to learn and grow and change in any way the Lord wanted them to.

In the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were gladdened, they felt forgiven, they were reconciled to God and reconciling with one another. They saw their sins and failures, but they also saw the far greater reality of Jesus crucified for them. To put it in a secular way, they couldn’t believe their luck.

Openness in a know-it-all world, comfort in an angry world – that ancient world simply could not resist these heaven-sent powers. So the church didn’t just grow, it multiplied.

Those early churches had no master plan for their future. But they were walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and it worked.

Church growth takes planning. Let’s do it. But church multiplication takes a miracle. Let’s be open to what only God can do.

When I look at church growth, I have come to the conclusion that there is only so much we can do. Consider what Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. He writes:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

According to Paul, it is only God that gives the growth. This does not mean that we do not have a part as we “water” and “plant,” but as bad as we want to, we can’t make it grow. Only God can!!

I’m not necessarily against church growth books or strategies (well,  I am against a few of them), but we need to be careful not to forget to walk “in the fear of the Lord” and in the “comfort of the Holy Spirit.”

If I have learned anything from looking at the early church and their growth, I have learned that God had to have made it happen. True, God used his people, but as Paul writes, we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

 

 

Stir It Up!

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What are you going to do in church today?

The writer of Hebrews helps us to decide…

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Are you going to “stir up” someone to “love and good works?” Are you going to be a catalyst for someone to be “salt” and “light” this week?

It’s easy to go to church and forget about our role. You may not teach a Sunday School class or serve in any “official” capacity (whatever that means), but according to the writer of Hebrews, you have a part to play.

You are to be one who “stirs” things up!!! The phrase “to stir up” is actually a pretty harsh phrase. It has the idea of spurring a horse to get it to gallup. It has the connotation of “provoking” someone.

The writer of Hebrews wanted to make sure that those He was writing to remained in the faith and continued to bear fruit. Therefore, he urged them to “spur one another” to get things going.

This is not always a comfortable thing to do. And yet, sometimes people need to be “stirred up.” We occasionally need people to challenge us to think about what we are doing. There are times in our lives that we need to be kick-started.

So are you willing to “stir things up” today? Or it could be that  you personally need to be “spurred on”?

Do remember that as you “spur one another on,” and as others “spur you on,” it is done for the purpose of producing “love and good deeds.” So stay humble today and be willing to “stir” and be “stirred.”