Archives For Larry Barker

Springs OcalaAllow me to clarify that this article is an adaptation from Will Mancini’s book Innovating Discipleship!

“How do you want your church to be different two years from now?”  The typical answer is, “We want more people!”  That can be expressed in different forms such as; “We want our auditorium full!” or “We want to start more small groups!” or “We want to see our attendance grow by 10%!” or “We want to start additional services so more people can attend!”  Everyone wants more people and more people is good.  Jesus wants more people and we should count people because people count.  The problem is when the numbers become the end result.

It is interesting that we do not hear the following very often: “We want to see more people desperate for Jesus!” or “We want to see our homes strengthened and more families having devotionals together!” or “We want to see our students on fire for God and living on mission to reach their campus for Christ!” or “We want to see more members building meaningful relationships with people who are far from Christ!”  Yet, despite a…

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20140609-092838-34118729.jpgFollowing is important and we know that Jesus said, “Follow me!” Jesus discipled others by moving them through a process (“I Do, You Watch; I do, You Help; You Do, I Help; You Do, I Watch”) from being followers to leaders. Leadership is influence and moves the follower forward through different levels. First, we must watch, listen, and learn. Then we begin to act upon the learning we have received. Many are trained way beyond their level of obedience! Thirdly, the follower begins to lead others intentionally. Next, they not only lead but focus on developing other leaders. Average leaders lead followers while great leaders lead leaders.

Leadership is basically the process of pouring into others to multiply ministry effectiveness, expand Godly influence, and reproduce spiritual leaders. There is an old saying, “If you want one year’s prosperity, grow grain, but if you want ten year’s prosperity, grow men and women.” A focus on leadership development focuses on building a simple reproducible system to ensure that our practice is able to catch up with…

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illusion

Growing up there were many superstitions, wives’ tales, and myths that as you got older you realized, as much as you believed it then, they were not true.  Some were harmless and innocent but others caused fear because if you broke a mirror you believed you would have seven years bad luck.  Even intelligent people will knock on wood, wish on a falling star, and become visibly upset if a black cat crosses their path.  As a child, I remember carefully walking down a sidewalk and avoiding every crack because, “step on a crack break your mother’s back.”

There are many church “myths” today that are spoken as if they are factual.  A myth is defined as, “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.”  Remember, a myth is called a myth because it has not been proven true.  The problem is that we hear myths, believe them, and then allow them to control our thinking and our behavior.  When churches believe myths rather than the truth it causes fear and can paralyze their ministries.  Things like, “If we build it they will come!” or…

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When I was teenager my brother, Gary, was in the Navy.  He joined the military with a vision to see the world but ended up stationed in Pensacola, FL, just one hour from our home.  Twice my parents and I had the privilege of going on his aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington, for a dependents’ day cruise.  I will never forget the jets being catapulted off of the deck, disappearing for a second, and then roaring off into the sky.  We were warned about getting too close to the edge and falling off because, “you can’t turn an aircraft carrier around overnight!”

Good advice to churches also!  You may have a clear vision of the necessary changes needed in your church to become healthy, but it’s like turning around an aircraft carrier; it takes time.  The task of leading a church to where the members are living out biblical values every day is not an easy task.  Leading a church to be healthy will require endless energy and an unrelenting determination to be the church God wants it to be!  The journey is…

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Church health is dependent upon the health of the pastor and its leadership.  If leaders are going to help people follow Jesus more closely and deeper then they must be setting the example for them to follow.  In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro says, “Wisdom and understanding are not built in a day, however they are built daily.”  Your daily walk with God must be consistent to show others how to develop an intimacy with God.  Cordeiro goes on to say, “We don’t forget that we are Christians.  We forget that we are human, and that one oversight can debilitate the potential for our future.”

The ministry is not easy!  It is a calling, a privilege, very rewarding and a blessing beyond description but it is not easy.  When consulting with pastors and training church planters I always remind them, “you are in trouble if you are in the ministry.”  C. H. Spurgeon said, “The ministry is a matter which wears the brain and strains the heart, and drains out the life of a man if he attends to it a he should.”  The devil…

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“Love, Listen, Learn, and Lead!  That is why we are here!”  When I heard those words at a recent Global Vision Summit with Dynamic Church Planting International, it resonated with my heart.  It caused me to think through how important the order is and the process of creating a healthy culture in our congregations and ministries.  These four ingredients are paramount to moving our churches towards being healthy and reproducing.  Every church must be driven by the Great Commission and recapture their vision to live on mission for God!

First, Love!  We need to love our congregations and our communities.  When Jesus looked on the multitudes He was moved with compassion.  When you look at the people around you, are you broken hearted for them or are you just angry at them?  Love your city enough to get involved and see it transformed one changed life at a time.  We should love living where we live and not be trying to just tough it out or living in survival mode.

What impact could you have for Christ in the schools, in city government, in times of crisis,…

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What if every church had a vision to plant ten churches in ten years?  If two couples were to move to a city with the goal of reproducing themselves and multiplying every three years, it could happen.  Four couples could plant 32 churches in ten years.  As you study the multiplication of the early church you notice that when it was illegal church planting was exponential, when it became acceptable church multiplication slowed down, and when it became advantageous to be a Christian church multiplication came to a screeching halt.

A church multiplication strategy is committed to developing not a church plant but a network of churches in a city or area.  In Luke 10:6 Jesus sent seventy of His followers out in groups of twos with their mission being to find a person of peace.  When they left that city, who was left in charge of the Lord’s work?  Paul, in his church planting journeys, used this same strategy of finding a potential leader, training them, empowering them, and leaving them in charge.  If 10% of our churches were planting churches, we would double…

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“Followership is the beginning – and end – of effective leadership!”  Dr. Timothy S. Laniak

The resources available these days on leadership are overwhelming!  Go into any bookstore or take a look at Amazon and the list is almost endless.  There are blogs, web-sites, seminars, and countless definitions of what biblical leadership looks like.  There is a picture of leadership in the scriptures that begins in the book of Genesis from the perspective of shepherding.  I was recently given a copy of When Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Dr. Timothy S. Laniak and it has challenged me to reexamine my view on how I lead and how I teach others to lead.

We cannot afford to ignore the shepherd metaphor used repeatedly in God’s word.  This figure of speech defines for us what kind of leaders we should be and the concept of shepherding does not need to be replaced but rather revived.  In the Old Testament God was unhappy with shepherds who only thought of themselves and He even promised that He would provide His people with shepherds who were after His own heart.  A shepherd must grow…

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I just can’t believe it is already the middle of June.  Busy, busy, busy!!!  Every season has certain rhythms with summer being the time of vacations and trying to get away.  We must redeem even the summer time by taking full advantage of the opportunities that God gives us.  Are we doing that?  Are we taking full, complete, total advantage of the doors HE is opening?  What goals has God placed upon your heart for the next three to six months and what are you going to do to make them become a reality?

Please do not think I am talking about being busier because all of us are busy enough but we need to make sure we are doing the necessary things God has called us to do.  This is not about doing more, but rather, about doing the right things in the life rhythms we are already in.  Thom Rainer put it this way.  “God calls us to make a transformational impact on the world, not provide a carnival of frenetic activity for ourselves.”

This is one of the reasons I believe in a coaching/mentoring relationship so strongly.  All of us need a…

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Pray for One AnotherGod has been challenging me to spend more time alone with Him.  All too often prayer is overlooked by those who prefer to be busy.  If you are a highly driven person you probably find it difficult to pause long enough to hear His voice each morning.  Being a “doer,” it is hard for me, by nature, to slow down and spend quality time with God.  I am so thankful that He has been patient with me and even when I have been too busy for Him, He has never been too busy for me.

Let me share a great verse with you that stresses the importance of praying for one another.  Col. 4:12 “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God”

On top of His word and the Holy Spirit I also ran across a couple of quotes that really spoke to me and convicted me.  “If you have a choice to make between praying and doing, choose to pray.  You will accomplish more by your…

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DashboardThe advances of technology have been amazing over the last ten to fifteen years.  This progress can be seen every day when you drive your vehicle.  The options now available on the steering wheel and dashboard of a car are amazing.  They used to only include; speedometer, odometer, water temperature, oil pressure, and a gas gauge.  Today you can answer your phone, manage the stereo, and set your cruise control from the buttons on your steering wheel.  The dashboard has a computer that can tell you when you have a low tire and when you need an oil change.  It can even calculate your fuel range, average fuel economy, and much more.

Even though these accessories are nice and make things much easier for us, the standard speedometer, odometer, gas gauge, etc, is still there.  These gauges or warning lights tell us how well the vehicle is running.  While it is very easy to become fascinated with all of the new bells and whistles you must keep your eyes on the gauges that matter.  Music can make a long trip far more enjoyable, and cruise control is awesome, but those advancements do not ensure…

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Discouraged and LonelyIn 2 Cor. 11:28-30, Paul said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” Tom Rainer, President of Lifeway, recently shared a survey given to pastors about two primary sources of personal struggle in the ministry. It proves that the challenges of the pastorate today are real and need to be admitted so that they might be addressed and resolved.  “Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else. But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

The Discouragement Factor: One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find that almost all…

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