Archives For Leadership

PhariseesMany of the Pharisees were probably great teachers and skilled speakers. I’m sure many were charismatic, skilled communicators. But by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Pharisees, on the whole, were killing the culture around them spiritually. Jesus had a lot of work to do just to unwire people from the performance-driven, legalistic trap of pharisaism.

I’ve been guilty of preaching like a Pharisee before, and as I review my sermons from the past, I cringe a bit as I peruse certain periods of my ministry when I placed undue burdens on my listeners in the name of “preaching the Word.” I’m writing out of my own past tendencies (and present tendencies I’m still trying to snuff out) as well as out of what I observe across the landscape of evangelical preaching.

The following tips will work to draw a moderate-sized crowd. A pulpit characterized by negativity and belligerence will draw a moderate-sized crowd of masochists who draw energy to go on another day by being beaten up spiritually. But it won’t make Jesus-like, craveable disciples. So use them at your own risk.

How do you preach like…

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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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By Tom Strode

A proposal to limit charitable deductions would be devastating for churches, religious organizations and other nonprofits if adopted by the federal government, says a Southern Baptist church-state expert.

Leaders in both political parties have suggested further restricting charitable deductions for at least some Americans who itemize on their tax returns as a way of helping avert the “fiscal cliff” facing the country Jan. 1. Without congressional action, the tax cuts implemented under President George W. Bush will expire on that date, producing about $7 trillion in tax increases. At the same time, inaction will result in sequestration — automatic cuts to defense and non-defense spending of $55 billion each.

The idea of capping the charitable deduction “is as serious a threat to religious organizations as anything the federal government has done in recent decades,” said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

“This would be catastrophic in its impact, particularly on those large gifts that many religious organizations, colleges, universities and ministries, as well as churches, depend upon for continuing operations,” Land told Baptist Press Thursday (Nov. 29). “Everything we know from past…

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By Jeff Brawner

If you’ve traveled most anywhere in the United States recently, you’ve likely had contact with a follower of Hinduism, a religion that is becoming a major factor on the American religious landscape.

Witnessing to Hindus can be daunting. A seminary student described his effort to reach out to a Hindu, saying, “They have all of those gods. I just felt … helpless.”

With 330 million gods, a Hindu’s simple response can be, “How can we be wrong, if we accept that everyone is at least partially right?”

Still, increasing numbers of Hindus around the world are trusting Christ. The church in India now encompasses more than 70-million people, the world’s eighth-largest Christian population.

To initiate sharing Christ with a Hindu, consider these four steps:

1. Befriend a Hindu. Invite your new Hindu friend to coffee or tea. Invest time in your new friend.

2. Avoid the urge just to be the person’s friend. Take a leap of faith and talk about spiritual ideas as soon as possible. Mention how God has blessed you, so the person will know that you are a spiritual person.

3. Look for “spiritual clues” –…

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By Jon D. Wilke

LifeWay Christian Resources has launched a new ebookstore at and a new mobile ebook reader, making it more convenient for customers to take their favorite books with them wherever they go.

The LifeWay Reader app is now available as a free download from the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad and from Google Play for Android devices. LifeWay’s new app allows users to build a personal library from a growing list of ebooks and resources from the same Christian publishers found in LifeWay Christian Stores and at The ebookstore currently offers more than 8,000 titles.

The LifeWay Reader app comes with a free pre-loaded copy of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). Other free content also is available online.

“The Bible features in the LifeWay Reader app make it stand apart in the market,” said Tim Vineyard, president of LifeWay Christian Stores.

All ebooks with Scripture references are automatically linked to the related Bible passage. Users can click on the link to display a pop-up window in the app without having to switch apps or wait for a new browser program to…

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DirectionI was having a conversation the other day with an up and coming leader. He was dealing with a very hurtful relationship that ended and he didn’t understand why it was so painful for so long.

We discovered his issue wasn’t just the pain of the relationship it was the pain of feeling rejected. Rejection is very powerful force, and it can be very destructive in the life of a leader. If we fear rejection, we will want to please all those around us, and…

Leaders can’t be Pleasers

Pleasers never Lead, they Congregate

Pleasers will never be leaders because they are more concerned about being “OK” with everyone, instead of being right with God. They love to congregate and hang out with those they feel accepted with. But the truth is, sometimes being a real leader means you may need to stand alone for a while.

Pleasers never Lead, they Participate

Pleasers love to run with the pack, and hang out with everyone like himself. Leaders must blaze new trails, run where others aren’t running. That means breaking away from the pack and embracing new ideas, and walking in the unique calling God as designed you for.

Prayerfully and…

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Planning ChristmasNow, here’s a fun church-wide CHRISTmas project. Plan a gigantic caroling blitz with an outreach purpose. Every attender at your church—singles, kids, elderly, teens, couples, bad singers, occasional attenders…everyone!—is challenged to contribute one hour for a purposeful caroling party. Try these simple tips for planning.

Tip #1: Make caroling maps. Each caroling team will receive a unique list of homes and prospective members to visit. Design a plan that fits your church and community, considering distance and time. Mappers will attempt to set one pre-arranged appointment for each team, such as a homebound member or church guest. Caroling at one home takes about five minutes, then they can sing at nearby homes as well. Where to carol?

  • Carol for homebound members and their neighbors.
  • Carol at all homes within a few blocks of your church building, or an entire subdivision.
  • Carol for your town’s mayor, police chief or other leaders.
  • Carol in hallways at a nearby nursing home, with permission.
  • “Drive-by” teams, including people with mobility limitations, carol from their car windows to fire stations, Christmas tree stores, and, with permission, mall parking lots.
  • Carol at the home of each recent visitor…

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Killer“I can do it better myself.”

True, to an extent. But you can’t do everything better. And even if you could, where would you find the time? This phrase leads down the path of “I must do it all”. You can’t do it all. You are finite. You are rhythmic. You cannot sustain a fevered pace, going from one task to the next. You will burn out. You must delegate wisely.

“I am judged on results.”

No you’re not. You may be employedto produce results. But you’re not judged by God to produce results. That’s His arena. Your task is to remain obedient and faithful. This requires a stellar and growing, dynamic relationship with Christ, Himself. Many of your colleagues have burned out thinking they were being judged by the results, which were not forthcoming in their assignment.

“If I work hard, God will provide.”

Nope. Hard work isn’t a trigger for God’s provision. At least, hard work ALONE isn’t. This phrase implies that you can go and go and go, at the expense of other areas of your life (like your physical health, your marriage, your parenting) and somehow God will fill in the gaps….

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Next GenerationOne of the greatest things a leader can do to maximize his or her influence is to invest time and energy into future leaders. The other day a tweet appeared in my feed which highlighted just that:

“There is a difference between providing a seat at the table and giving up your own seat for the next generation. Use influence to catalyze.” —@HeathAdamson

There are many leaders who spend no time or energy investing in the next generation—not even allowing them to have a seat at the table. There are some leaders who allow the next generation to have a presence at the table, but they aren’t willing to let them contribute to the conversation. And then there are a few select leaders who realize the potential a next generation leader has and voluntarily give up their seats on a particular project or decision. Essentially, these are the leaders who create a ripple effect into the lives of potential leaders for generations to come.

I want to be that kind of leader. As I started to really chew on this idea, I thought I’d share a few characteristics of “giving…

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As many of you know, I am back in school, getting a Masters degree in international studies. I have the opportunity to take a trip next summer for course credit. As I was looking at the options, I experienced a feeling that has become quite familiar lately. I’m not sure what to call it … longing, maybe?

As I was envisioning the various places I could go, my heart was already connecting with the people in those countries. Their need for the gospel as well as their physical needs filled my mind immediately. And then I remembered as the feeling came, that this wouldn’t be a mission trip. It would be fun and interesting, but educational not missional. Sigh. Longing.

Sometimes as I sit in class or am studying, it comes again. Why do I need to know what caused the Asian financial crisis or the Arab Spring? I’m in ministry, for crying out loud! (as my Mom would say). I love God, His Word and people. I burn with passion to touch people’s lives, to pour life-giving truth into them, to make a difference in…

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This time of year, most non-profits are in overdrive providing meals, toys, shelter and support for the holiday season.  You’re swamped and stretched pretty thin, so planning for the upcoming year may not be your top priority.  However, January will be here before you know it and you’ll want to start off the year ahead of things, right?  You could, and may need to, conduct a strategy session to really think through the direction you want to take your organization next year.  That’s a topic for another post.  However, if you’ve already had that session or already have your goals set for the year I recommend that you start things off by creating a central calendar for your team.

Here’s what needs to be on the calendar:

  • Events – Any event you’re planning to conduct such as fundraisers, celebrations, volunteer appreciation nights, etc.
  • Maintenance projects – These are the mundane items that we tend to put off until there’s an emergency.  Examples include building maintenance, hardware / software upgrades, equipment safety checks, etc.
  • Communications – If you send out newsletters (either via email or snail…

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I think most everyone is a bit weary of the commercialization of Christmas. Most of us love the season, the traditions, time with family, carols, food, and opportunity to rest. We are not tired of Christmas; we just fear losing what made it “Christmas” to begin with.

That is particularly true when it comes to our children. We do not want them to think this sacred holiday is merely about having their every electronic, plastic, and sugar-infused desire met. We love the expression on their faces as they open presents. We delight even more in putting those smiles there. But we want them to see that those presents represent “the gift;” a gift that was given not to pacify a desire or annual fad, but to meet the deepest need of their soul.

What follows is a liturgy (order of service) of sorts. Feel free to adapt it. The liturgy is intended to be highly interactive and is built around four presents and is infused with Christmas carols, Scripture and conversation. The…

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