Just a short thought

“Making a difference is far more effective than making a point.” Andy Stanley.

Leadership Retreat Fall 2013

In preparation for our leadership retreat this September, 2013, I am asking all leaders to listen to a talk that Bill Hybels gave at this year’s Global Leadership Summit on “Courageous Leadership”.

Click here to Listen

Impact Churches

I came across this recent blog post about 11 Traits of Churches that Will Impact the Future, and I found it to be very helpful and very true. I see these traits in churches that are growing and making an impact on their communities. Take a look and share your thoughts.

http://careynieuwhof.com/2013/05/11-traits-of-churches-that-will-impact-the-future/

 

 

Building God’s Church

As leaders we have probably heard the expression “building God’s church”. And many of us in ministry probably see that as our calling- to build God’s church. BUT, I was reminded recently in an article that I read that we really shouldn’t be interested in growing a church. I know, weird right? That’s what I thought when I read that, but then the author goes on to say that we, as members of a congregation, should be interested in blessing a city. When you bless a city then God grows the church. Jesus says in Scripture, “I will build my church…” It’s not our job to build the church, but to be a blessing to others. If you think about it, Jesus doesn’t tell Peter “build my church,” Jesus tells Peter, “feed my sheep.” I got to thinking: How does looking at it from that vantage point change the way we are as a congregation? I think it has huge implications for us as leaders. I think it even takes some pressure off of us.  I think it then allows us to focus on being a blessing to other people, in our community, those who walk through the door of our congregations and in the world. I also think it really pushes us to be in prayer. Mark Batterson says, “Prayer is the difference between the best you can do and the best God can do.” Prayer also creates a culture where people have a heart for evangelism, which helps with the idea above where we focus on being a blessing to our community. You see, when you get into God’s presence you start to get God’s heartbeat, and then the game changes.

Even if you are a leader in the corporate world, I think that this has implications for you as well. Why do you exist as a company? I think all leaders must accept the notion that all organizations exist to make people’s lives better. Patrick Lencioni writes in his book “The Advantage” that, “every enterprise-every last one-ultimately should exist to make people’s lives better. To aspire to anything less would be foolish.” Besides, what would be the point? (I know, but other than to make money.) If you focus on that aspect instead of “building your company”, how might that change the way your company runs? How folks look at their roles? How you manage as a leader?

All food for thought.

Guts

I am starting to prepare for our church’s fall leadership gathering this September. Our theme will be “Take Courage”. We have a lot of BIG things coming up here at the church and for churches, that can seem a little intimidating. It will take courage as well as faith to move forward. And that’s where some ministries fail. As leaders, it is inevitable we will arrive at a specific moment when God calls us to something bigger than ourselves. As I have found in my 7 years of ministry, that can be quite often. We receive a divine glimpse of the future and discern what we were created for. It is often at this very point where we count the costs, and decide that the stakes are simply too high, and therefore we retreat. Be we cannot turn back at awareness. We must act. We must be willing to take a risk and answer the call. We must be willing to step out in faith and have the courage to move forward. We are right, the stakes are too high, the stakes are always high when it comes to building God’s kingdom.

Seth Godin writes in his book “Poke the Box”, “The greatest challenge any successful organization faces is finding the guts to risk that success in order to accomplish something great. And risking that success ultimately becomes the only way to accomplish something great.” I believe the times when we are least likely to take a risk are the times when everything is ok. When everything is running smoothly. When we are experiencing success. But that is the exact time too take a risk if you see the vision and are receiving the call. But not doing that we risk our churches just being good, instead of being great. Identifying the sophomore slump or the second-album problem should be on any good leaders radar. We should be watching for the challenge of expectations and then responding. Confront other leaders with it, write it down, relentlessly work to destroy it. As Seth Godin says, “It is the best way to get back to the reason you set out to do whatever it is you do in the first place.” In this instance, it is the best way to get back to building God’s church!

Great Leaders Read

One of the most valuable things I learned in ministry was something Bill Hybels said during one of the Leadership Summits that I went to early on in my ministry. Bill said, “Great leaders are readers. So what are you reading?” He went on to say that great leaders need to spend at least 1 hour a day reading. “One hour reading!” I thought. There was no way I had that amount of time. But I started off and tried to make an hour a day for reading something. It got easier as time past and now it’s old hat. Sometimes my leadership winces when I have them read something before coming to a leadership retreat, or before coming to a council meeting, or before starting a staff meeting. But the proof is in the pudding, whatever that means, and I have grown in my leadership and have become more confident in my leadership because of the reading that I do.

But it’s one thing to read, and it’s another to put it into practice. It doesn’t do you any good as a leader if you don’t use what you read. I try to ALWAYS put into practice the lessons I learn from reading and from going to conferences. I’m not looking for the next new gimmick, I’m just looking for a way to lead people better. Here’s what’s on my list of books right now:

Great By Choice, Jim Collins

Radical Together, David Platt

Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman

Mission

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Are we a missional church? To be a missional church means that we are called from being a community of members to a community of neighbors. Being missional isn’t about creating a new program for church growth, but it is about living out what Jesus commanded his disciples in those verses from Matthew. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a command. Out of all the things a church can vote on, this isn’t one of them. The Savior who we follow commands us, to go out into the world and to be a missional church.

So what does all this mean for us? It means listening for God and aligning our efforts with how and where God is moving in this time. It is about being generous with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and giving it away to everyone we meet. It is about being a neighbor to those who are around us. Archbishop Rowan Williams said, “It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission that has a church in the world.”

Mission requires us to GO OUT. It requires us to look beyond ourselves, and look to building God’s kingdom in our community and in our world. It requires us to teach, to share, to listen, to forgive, to accept, and to extend. We seem captive to buildings too often. Perhaps it is due to Luther’s emphasis on preaching or our heritage of inspiring cathedrals and music. I find it quite odd that “The Church Without Walls” is putting up some mighty big walls down the road. In all manner of speaking, we are a church without walls because we are commanded to go out into the world.

We have a sending God, and I feel that the church that is more occupied with those on the outside and the church that has a heart for mission will be the church that continues to grow. Why? Because we have a sending God, who is creating, redeeming and molding Christ’s church. God calls us to a sending mission, one as close as over our backyard fence or to the employee in the next office or even to the person we order our coffee from. Let’s go!